After leaving the nursing profession for love, Pauline A. Edmund became her husband's right hand in what would become a world-renowned science-gadget business.

She worked as the bookkeeper and personnel manager at the Barrington-based Edmund Scientific Co., founded by her husband, Norman, while also doing volunteer work around South Jersey.

No matter what she was involved in, her family said, she always was "the supervisor" or "the boss." It was ingrained in her personality.

Mrs. Edmund, 96, died following a stroke on Thursday, Dec. 23, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she and her husband had retired in 1975.

Norman Edmund, an accountant, taught his wife how to keep the books for the mostly mail-order telescope and optical-supply business, begun in 1942.

As the business grew and the Edmunds hired full-time employees, Mrs. Edmund took charge of personnel, ultimately managing more than 150 people before she and her husband retired in 1975.

The business, now called Edmund Optics Inc. and run by their son, Robert, distributes about 2 million catalogs in 11 languages and has close to 700 employees around the world. In the 1980s, an addition to the Barrington headquarters was named after Mrs. Edmund.

Throughout the years, Mrs. Edmund also worked with many South Jersey charities.

She was president of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Auxiliary and led fund-raising campaigns for Catholic Charities. Mrs. Edmund was also a founding member of the parish council at St. Francis de Sales Church in Barrington and helped raised money for the church's nursery school.

While her daughters were active in the Girl Scouts, Mrs. Edmund was a Brownie troop leader and later became the Camden County troop organizer.

Mrs. Edmund's volunteerism stemmed from her tough childhood and early adulthood.

"She felt so lucky," her daughter Joan Husted said, adding that Mrs. Edmund would sometimes say: "Look at this life I have."

Pauline Barna was born and raised in small towns in Schuylkill County, Pa. Her father owned a saloon, but when Prohibition came, people who owed bar tabs never paid. He was forced to work as a miner to raise his seven children.

A year after graduating from high school in the early 1920s, Mrs. Edmund went to St. Mary Nursing School in Philadelphia. After two years of school, she contracted tuberculosis and was sent to White Haven Sanitorium, where she recovered.

After returning to finish her degree, she went to work as a nurse at the Lakeland sanitorium. When she was moved up to night supervisor, she met Norman Edmund, a patient. The two fell in love - a big no-no at the time, her daughter said - and Mrs. Edmund left her job shortly after Norman Edmund checked out.

The couple married in 1942.

In addition to her husband, son, and daughter, Mrs. Edmund is survived by six grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and a sister. A daughter, Jane, died in the early 1990s.

A memorial service and Funeral Mass will be held in Barrington in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Catholic Charities of Camden, Office of Development, 1845 Haddon Ave., Camden, N.J. 08103, or the Salvation Army, 915 Haddon Ave., Camden, N.J. 08103.

Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or cvargas@phillynews.com.