Dr. Carol Petito
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PETITO, CAROL, DR. 76, longtime resident of Coral Gables and New York City, passed away surrounded by her family and dogs on December 15, 2018. Dr. Petito was born in Long Island, NY; went to high school at Northfield Mount Hermon; attended college at Jackson College for Women (Tufts); and studied medicine at Columbia University. Selfless, humble, caring and beautiful, Carol was known around her neighborhood as the kind lady frequently seen walking her two dachshunds, Penny and Leo. But this friendly exterior belies the remarkable life of a brilliant physician; a mentor to countless women; a wonderful mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, step-mother, sister, aunt, friend and wife; and a proud fighter. Dr. Petito was the eldest daughter of Charles and Marita Kaiser. Her father, Charles Wille,was a navy man and vocational school teacher. Her mother, Marita Baitinger, was an executive assistant and a homemaker. They both emphasized the importance of education. Dr. Petito was an amazingly accomplished physician. Working as a neuropathologist at Cornell, she was the first to discover changes to the brain of AIDS patients, a landmark finding in diagnosing and treating AIDS patients. She would say, however, that her greatest professional accomplishments were the many residents and young doctors that she mentored and trained throughout her long and illustrious career at Cornell and the University of Miami as director of the residency training program. These included many trainees who went on to important academic posts and heads of departments at major universities, many of whom always acknowledged her deep impact on their careers. Dr. Petito cared deeply about all of her students and this was the favorite part of her job. The fact that Dr. Petito became a doctor is amazing and clearly a tribute to her tenacity. Going to medical school in the '60s was not the obvious path for a young woman especially one from modest means. While her college advisors originally discouraged her from applying to Columbia, she persisted, succeeded and graduated from Columbia, becoming a very successful physician at a time when being a female doctor was rare.She was very persistent and never let obstacles keep her from achieving her goals. Dr. Petito loved her work and proudly continued to mentor young doctors and practice medicine until mid-2017, not letting the impediment of lung cancer (diagnosed in 2010) stop her from pursuing all that she loved. While she defined herself as a doctor, she lived a full life outside of work, traveling around the world with her husband Mike, also a renowned physician; going on golf trips to North Carolina with her sister and nieces; providing her son with constant support and a lifelong love of fly-fishing; patiently accompanying her daughter and grandchildren to theme parks in Orlando and following their many accomplishments with pride; and, regardless of the location, she was always surrounded by her dachshunds who provided a symphony of high pitched barks and howls of love, even during her final days at the hospital. Carol had a total of eight wiener dogs over the course of her life, most notably Penny and Leo, the current pair. Her son and daughter reluctantly accept the fact that Penny and Leo are likely her most beloved children, even though they were purchased from the back of a van parked behind a 7-11. Family was always of paramount importance to Dr. Petito who is survived by her loving husband, Dr. Michael Norenberg; her children, Frank and Anne, who remember her with unwavering love, incredible admiration for her accomplishments and tremendous appreciation for being the best mother and example a child could hope for; her five grandsons, Jack, Gus, Henry, Cameron and Kiefer who will endeavor to honor her great legacy as they move through life; her siblings June and Charley, who were also her best friends; nephews and nieces who brought joy to her life and she to theirs; lovely step-children and grandchildren who became family; her ex-husband and Columbia classmate, Dr. Frank Petito; and many other relatives and dear friends, including the incomparable Novlette Bowden who was her recent companion in shopping for silly socks and indulging in the occasional chocolate frosty at Wendy's. A Memorial Service followed by a celebratory gathering will take place at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Pinecrest, Florida from 3-5 PM on Saturday, January 19, 2019. Please feel welcome to join us if your life was touched by Dr. Petito.

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Published in the Miami Herald on Jan. 13, 2019.
Memorial service
03:00 - 05:00 PM
Christ the King Lutheran Church
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11 entries
July 5, 2019
I happened to run into a mutual acquaintance of Carol's and mine today and also on a whim as someone else said, "googled" her. I was shocked and very sad to see she died early this year. Just a few hours ago I was telling this mutual friend how good a friend Carol was to me even though we were miles apart professionally. She was in the midst of her medical training and I was an at home mom. Our oldest sons, Frankie Petito and my son Matt were playmates as toddlers. I can see them laughing in the sprinklers in a NYC playground. We picked up our friendship again when Frank and Susan moved to San Francisco and then had a few more good visits. We talked mostly about family, the times long gone and those of the present. She was a great gal. Sending love to all the family. Ellen Price
Ellen Price
June 18, 2019
On a whim, I googled "Carol Petito" and found this obituary. I was so shocked and sorry to read it. Carol and I went to medical school when women were in a distinct minority and the medical school itself at Columbia was going through a difficult phase. She soon found a niche with close friends and her first husband, Frank. She made extraordinary contributions to neuropathology, using her only functioning eye. It sounds as if she led a very full life, full of accomplishments, family, and dogs. I am so sorry to read of her death.
Kate Killebrew, MD
June 18, 2019
Novlette Bowden
June 10, 2019
Sharing the great admiration and respect held for esteemed Neuropathology colleague and beloved role model, Dr. Carol Petito. Deepest sympathy to her family from Dr. Margaret Jones
Margaret Z. Jones
February 28, 2019
The very fondest of memories endure from P&S med school classmate days. We lived in neighboring Long Island communities and frequently shared car rides home. A lovely person.
Dulaney Glen
January 15, 2019

My deepest sympathies. May the God of all comfort strengthen the entire family during this time of sorrow. Always remember that God keeps in his memory those whom we lose because they are precious in his eyes. (Psalms 116:15)
January 14, 2019
Dr. Petito is an amazing person and mentor. I will always remember her smile and sense of humor. As program director, she was a mother to us, her residents. She loved and protected us as much she could. But she would also make sure we did our work and got the most out of our education. We are very blessed to have you as our program director. You will be dearly missed.
Wendong Yu
January 14, 2019
My condolences. Dr. Petito was a wonderful person and a great teacher. She will be missed dearly.
Liset Pelaez
January 14, 2019
Dr. Petito was an inspiration and a dear mentor to generations of pathologists. Her dedication was unparalleled. I am forever grateful for the opportunities she gave me. My condolences to her family.
Carlos Parra-Herran
January 14, 2019
My condolences. May the God of all comfort be with you and your family at this difficult time.
January 13, 2019
I first met Carol In Yoga class and was instantly captivated by her wit and charming personality. I feel blessed to have had her as a friend. Condolences to all who loved her.
Sue Easthope
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