Paula Kovarick Segalman, a former registered nurse who was a volunteer, fundraiser and talented athlete, died Friday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, at her North Roland Park home.
She was 61.
"Paula was a vibrant, caring and strong woman. She was so generous and was always asking what she could do for others," said Lydia Y. Travelstead, who first got to know Mrs. Kovarick Segalman when she was her daughter's nanny 17 years ago.
"She had a way of moving mountains. Give her a task, and she got it done," said Ms. Travelstead, a Homeland resident.
The daughter of Maj. Gen. Joseph W. Kovarick, a career Air Force officer, and Barbara Walbridge Kovarick, a registered nurse, Paula Jean Kovarick was born and raised in Stroudsburg, Pa.
During her youth, she worked as a waitress, entertainer and gardener in the family business, Kovarick's, a recreational resort and summer camp for adults and children in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
After graduating from Stroudsburg High School in 1971, she attended Juniata College, and she earned a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1976 from East Stroudsburg University.
She moved to Washington, where she worked as a nurse at George Washington University Hospital and established a private-duty nursing agency. She also worked for a time as a bartender at Pierce Street Annex.
Mrs. Kovarick Segalman moved to New York City in 1986 when she took a job as a nurse for plastic surgeons at Manhattan Eye and Ear Infirmary and New York University Hospital.
While working at NYU, she met and fell in love with Dr. Keith A. Segalman, an orthopedic surgeon, whom she married in 1990.
The couple moved to Baltimore in 1992, and then Mrs. Kovarick Segalman began working in fundraising at Bryn Mawr School and Union Memorial Hospital. In 2000, she co-chaired the hospital's annual Rites of Spring social event.
She was regarded as a gracious hostess who enjoyed giving dinner parties and entertaining at her St. Georges Road home in North Roland Park.
"She was an incredible hostess, whether it was a small or large dinner party or a bat mitzvah for her daughters," said Ms. Travelstead. "She left no stone unturned."
Mrs. Kovarick Segalman was also a gardener and earned accolades from the Lake Roland Garden Club and the Roland Park community.
Mrs. Kovarick Segalman was an accomplished athlete. During her teenage years, she became a noted equestrian and open jumper and traveled throughout the United States riding her horse, Burgundy.
When living in New York City, she continued riding in Central Park and learned to sail on Long Island Sound.
Mrs. Kovarick was also an avid skier and liked to travel.
She was in her 40s when she began playing tennis, at which she soon excelled, and in 2007 won the Baltimore Country Club's doubles championship.
In 2008, Mrs. Kovarick Segalman was diagnosed with the disease that ended her life.
"Despite this, she continued to play competitive tennis for several years and care for her family. She never lost her way, cared for her two girls, and created a loving and beautiful home in Roland Park. Her children were her passion," said Dr. Segalman.
"She continued being a strong advocate for her girls," said Ms. Travelstead.
"When she couldn't walk, she used my arm; when she couldn't walk without a walker, she still drove her car; and when she could barely walk, she refused to use a wheelchair," said her husband.
"Only when it became impossible to walk did she use the wheelchair. Strength, determination and bravery described her inspiring fight," he said. "She was a very dynamic person. No one ever forgot her after meeting her."
Gabrielle H. "Gaby" Saiontz, a Homeland resident, has been a close friend for 17 years.
"I met Paula 17 years ago when our daughters became friends at Hunt's preschool in Riderwood, and then we became friends and I got to know her entire family," said Ms. Saiontz.
"I viewed her as a mentor, a big sister and a guide. She knew everything and made it her business to get all the right and best things to do, and what was the best route to get them," she said. "She was very funny and opinionated, and she'd tell you what she thought."
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She added: "Despite the ALS, she still managed to do a lot and was still involved with her family and friends."
"Even though she was wheelchair-bound, she still remained a presence," said Ms. Travelstead.
Mrs. Kovarick Segalman was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
A memorial service was held Monday at the Baltimore Country Club. The family will be sitting shiva from 2 p.m to 5 p.m and 7 p.m to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at their home, 803 St. Georges Road.
In addition to her husband of 25 years, Mrs. Kovarick Segalman is survived by two daughters, Lily Anna Segalman of Baltimore and Olivia Rose Segalman of Tampa, Fla.; her parents, who live in of Chevy Chase; two sisters, Suzan Kovarick Sunderland of Chevy Chase and Beverly Kovarick Scofield of Stowe, Vt.; and many nieces and nephews.