Judy Petrillo De Obaldia, 63, of Moorestown, microbiology laboratory supervisor at Cooper University Hospital from 1981 to 1996, died of breast cancer Thursday, March 19, at home.
Born in Long Branch, N.J., Mrs. De Obaldia graduated from Moorestown High School in 1969 and earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology at the University of Rhode Island in 1975.
From the time she was 12 until she left home for college, she owned a quarter horse named Hello Dolly, and at times competed in horse shows.
Mrs. De Obaldia began her Cooper career in 1977 as a microbiology technologist before becoming the lab supervisor, daughter Ellen said.
Alan Evangelista, director of the Cooper microbiology lab from 1980 to 1991, who oversaw her work, said, "She had a really exceptional ability to understand personalities."
She supervised from 10 to a dozen workers in the lab, he recalled.
"It's very rare to find that combination - of being able to understand people and work with them on laboratory problems," Evangelista said.
After leaving Cooper, Mrs. De Obaldia taught medical microbiology at the Thomas Jefferson University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences from 1998 to 2013.
"She taught laboratory skills to the medical students so they could understand what went into making conclusions about the cultures they would order," her daughter said.
At the same time, from 2001 to 2014, Mrs. De Obaldia was a microbiology specialist at Pure Earth Environmental Laboratory in Pennsauken.
She would receive chemical samples from manufacturers, for example, "to make sure there's no fungus growing in their buildings."
As her daughters were growing, Mrs. De Obaldia was a coach for their science fair exhibits, and "helped us with conceiving the experiments, helped us do the experiments, and on the day of the fair would help us to construct the display boards," Ellen said.
The competitions took the family to fairs in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Louisville, and San Jose, she said.
Mrs. De Obaldia was a member of the American Society for Microbiology and the American Association of Bioanalysts.
Besides her daughter, she is survived by her husband, Jose; daughters Lisa and Cristy; two brothers; and a sister.
A visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 27, at Mount Laurel Home for Funerals, 212 Ark Rd. A Funeral Mass is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 28, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 42 W. Main St., Moorestown.
Donations may be sent to www.stjude.org.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.mountlaurelfuneralhome.com.