Patricia M. Pearl

[Age 65] Former manager of rehabilitation services for Goodwill later started a home-cleaning service.

November 04, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Patricia M. Pearl, former manager of rehabilitation services for Goodwill Industries who later established a home cleaning business, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Tuesday at St. Elizabeth's Nursing Center in Southwest Baltimore. She was 65.

Born Patricia Murphy in Easton, Pa., she was raised in Phillipsburg, N.J. A 1958 graduate of Phillipsburg High School, she earned a bachelor's degree in clothing design and textiles from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y., in 1962.

From 1962 to 1974, Mrs. Pearl worked as a junior sportswear buyer for Hutzler's department store in Baltimore.

In 1978, she earned a master's degree in psychology from what is now Towson University and was the recipient of the psychology department's outstanding graduate student award.

While studying for her degree, Mrs. Pearl counseled teens at the Southeast YMCA in Essex and at the Harbel Community Mental Health Center in Baltimore.

She was community liaison and public relations officer at Baltimore's Cross Country Elementary School from 1978 until 1980, when she went to work for Goodwill Industries as a vocational evaluator.

Mrs. Pearl was later promoted to manager of rehabilitation services and was director of Goodwill's summer residential camp.

After marrying James Pearl, an artist, in 1981, she moved from Hampden, where she had restored a home, to Frederick, where she and her husband restored and lived in a historic house on South Market Street and were active in many cultural and historic preservation organizations.

Mr. Pearl died in 2002.

During the 1980s, she was director of personnel and rehabilitation services for Goodwill in Frederick, and later served in a similar capacity at Home Call Inc. of Frederick, which supplies home health care providers. In the late 1980s, she established The Charming Char, a residential cleaning business.

When she was in her early 50s, Mrs. Pearl began suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"In 1989, she began suffering from something but no one quite knew what it was. She continued working but wouldn't hire anyone to help her in her business," said her sister, Sandra M. Schmidt of Middle River.

"She was finally diagnosed in 1993 with Alzheimer-like dementia, which her doctors referred to as the early onset of Alzheimer's," she said.

"Pat had inexhaustible energies and was a very accomplished person before being stricken with Alzheimer's, and afterward, she kept trying to adapt to the disease. She had such incredible strength," Mrs. Schmidt said.

As her illness progressed, Mrs. Pearl moved to Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville, and then to Church Home and Hospital. After it closed, she moved to St. Elizabeth's.

Mrs. Pearl loved music and dancing, and counted as one of the highlights of her life having attended Woodstock in 1969.

Mrs. Schmidt said her sister was "genuinely interested in people and had a variety of friends of all ages and from all walks of life. She traveled widely and made friends wherever she went."

Mrs. Pearl donated her body to the brain center at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as part of an Alzheimer's research project, her sister said.

"Pat truly believed that `one crowded hour of glorious life was worth an age without a name,' and she lived her life just that way," Mrs. Schmidt said.

Plans for services were incomplete yesterday.

Also surviving are a brother, Charles L. Murphy of Carson City, Nev.; two stepdaughters, Deborah P. Souders and Rebecca Pearl, both of Frederick; two nieces; and a nephew.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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