Barbara Petruccelli, 78, was a nature lover who stayed involved in environmental preservation and social causes, even as her physical health weakened. About three years ago, she became a dedicated blogger.
"As she had more physical problems, she couldn't walk the trails, and being outdoors was difficult. So the blog and computer became a window out - the way she traveled," said daughter Kathryn Petruccelli, 40, of Monterey, Calif.
A resident of the Villas section of Lower Township, Barbara Petruccelli - known as Bobbie by fellow bloggers - died June 19 of a heart attack. She had worked in the Lower Township Planning and Zoning Office for about 20 years, retiring in 2000.
She moved to southern New Jersey from Long Island, N.Y., 32 years ago, in the wake of husband Ralph's death.
"She had four children, ages 6 to 16, to raise," said son Joe Petruccelli, 50, of the Erma section of Lower.
As a young woman, she rose to the challenge of supporting her family, learning new skills and becoming an expert in zoning questions. And in her final years, she continued to grow.
"She embraced the issues of autism awareness and gay marriage later in life" by writing about them on her blog, Kathryn Petruccelli said. "These aren't things that she was personally affected by. It was one of the things I most admired about her - how her views evolved."
She created a large online community, said fellow blogger Dianne Wilson, 55, of Hazlet Township, Monmouth County. Petruccelli and Wilson found each other through a mutual reader who recommended a link to another blog.
"It turned out to be Bobbie," Wilson said. The two maintained a three-year online frienship, with daily contact.
They met in person for the first time the day before Petruccelli died.
"I walked into her hospital room. She threw her hands in the air, she was so thrilled to see me," Wilson said.
Petruccelli taught her about nature.
"I never understood the story of monarch butterflies, or how to put up a feeder to attract hummingbirds, before Bobbie," Wilson said.
Petruccelli began blogging with the help of a younger friend and former co-worker, Lisa Schubert, 43, of Villas. "She loved the friendships she made through the community. That's what bloggers are, a community," Schubert said.
In turn, Petruccelli taught Schubert about photography, one of her lifelong passions.
One place they went to take photos is Leaming's Run Gardens on Route 9 in the Swainton section of Middle Township. Petruccelli's memorial service will be held there sometime in September. The family has not set a specific date.
Petruccelli's blog is being maintained for a time by her family. Visit it at:
A Life Lived appears Tuesdays and Saturdays.
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