Teresa Clark Di Pietro

Physical therapist who specialized in working with disabled children is remembered for her skill and generous spirit.

December 07, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Teresa Clark Di Pietro, a physical therapist who worked with children with disabilities, died Nov. 30 while giving birth to a healthy son at Franklin Square Hospital Center. Family members said that she suffered a rare obstetric emergency known as an amniotic fluid embolism. She was 32 and lived in Bel Air.

Her son, Rocco William Di Pietro, survived his mother's death.

Born Teresa Clark in Baltimore and raised in Bel Air, she was a 1994 graduate of Bel Air High School, where she played field hockey and lacrosse. She earned a degree at Villa Julie College, now Stevenson University, where she played those sports and ran track. She had a master's degree in physical therapy from the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

Mrs. Di Pietro initially worked with the elderly at Lorien Riverside in Harford County and at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore.

"She was one of those persons who always went the extra mile for her patients," said Krisi Spencer, a former Good Samaritan co-worker who lives in Bel Air. "She was willing to learn something more. She was not a static employee. Work was not a paycheck to her; it was a way to touch people's lives."

At her death, she was a physical therapist for Towson-based Care Resources. She provided physical therapy to Harford County public schools students and also worked in a home-based infant and toddler program.

"She was an incredible professional who was good at what she did," said her supervisor, Anne Heere-Beyer. "She worked so parents could help their children. Her smile would light up a room - she was such a loving person."

About 500 people attended a Mass on Thursday at St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Abingdon after a funeral home visitation the day before when nearly 1,000 waited an hour to pay respects.

"I only had the privilege of knowing Teresa for a short time," said Alisha White of Belcamp. "She was my daughter Chloe's therapist. She was an amazing and wonderful person, and my children adored her. Chloe would just light up when she came to the house, and she always went out of her way to include my son in Chloe's therapy sessions."

Family members said that children Mrs. Di Pietro worked with brought drawings, pictures and other keepsakes to the funeral.

"One of the fathers brought a video on his phone of Teresa of teaching his daughter to walk," said her mother, Deborah Morris Clark, a Harford County teacher. "Another child brought a teacup that Teresa had used when they had a tea party."

She recalled that another mother said Mrs. Di Pietro helped her child say her first word; and when she spoke, she called Mrs. Di Pietro "Mama."

Mrs. Di Pietro worked until shortly before her birth delivery date.

"She was so looking forward to the birth of her child," said a colleague, Lynn Bacharach of Baldwin. "And in work, she was very impressive in the way she worked with the infant and toddlers' family. Many of the parents said, 'You can get our child to do anything.' "

Her mother said her daughter had a normal pregnancy, exercised regularly and attended prenatal classes. She said her death was "totally unexpected" and that she did not live to see her first born, Rocco William, who has been named for his two grandfathers.

"I knew I had a wonderful daughter, but I never realized how many peoples' lives she touched in such a short time," her mother said.

In addition to her son and her mother, survivors include her husband of 18 months, David A. Di Pietro, a recruiting manager; her father, William F. Clark of Bel Air; two sisters, Emily Clark Coyne of Bel Air and Anne Clark McFadden of Coronado, Calif.; her paternal grandmother, Gertrude I. Clark of Gaithersburg; and her maternal grandparents, Kemp and Mabel Morris of Suffolk, Va.

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