Margaret Gargiullo

Margaret B. Gargiullo

Thursday, November 19th, 1942 - Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
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Dateline East Windsor

Margaret Berry Gargiullo, a plant ecologist and botanist born into a family of writers followed in their footsteps writing extensively on the subject, died on August 6 in Plainsboro, NJ. She was 76. Her family said the cause was complications due to breast cancer, a disease she battled periodically since 2004.

Her varied career began in nursing. Inspired by the Sue Barton series of books for young girls written by her godmother, Helen Dore Boylston, and mother, Jane Cobb, under the former’s name, she became a registered nurse in 1963 at St. Luke’s Hospital and worked private duty for several years at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, NY.

She attended the City College of New York and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1970 and, after marriage, relocated to New Jersey and worked several years at the Textile Research Institute in Princeton, NJ, analyzing and identifying the combustion products of fabrics.

She began studying for her doctorate in biochemistry at City University of New York but changed her focus to the study of plants, a topic she had loved all her life having grown up in a wooded, rural area of Connecticut. She earned a PhD in 1991 in Plant Ecology from Rutgers University in NJ by studying the role of secondary metabolites in over-wintering bird-dispersed fruits in two species of holly.

In the mid-90s, she joined the Natural Resources Group of the New York City Parks Department as a Plant Ecologist researching and writing the book, A Guide to Native Plants of the New York City Region. Her interests extended well beyond the city limits however. While attending a botany course in Costa Rica, she came to realize there was no guide to the plants of the country written specifically for the casual visitor. Working for several years with two photographers, she published the well-received A Field Guide to Plants of Costa Rica. She most recently published an on-line book entitled An Ecological Manual of New York City Plants in Natural Areas (

She is survived by her husband Robert of East Windsor, NJ, her son and daughter-in-law Michael and Paula Gargiullo, grandchildren Tia, Matthew and Noah of Hightstown, NJ, and her brother and sister-in-law, Ben and Carole Berry of New York, NY.

Funeral services will be private and the family will host a gathering celebrating her life at a date to be announced.

In Lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations cam be made in Margaret's memory to either,
The Nature Conservancy, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
or The Organization for Tropical Studies

Arrangements are under the direct care and supervision of Robert L. Pecht, Bordentown Home for Funerals 40 Crosswicks St. Bordentown, NJ 08505. Please go to Margaret’s book of memories page at to upload a picture, make a donation, or offer condolences to the family.
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michele whitehurst

Posted at 12:07pm
I worked with Marge at Parks department for many years. I am the administrative assistant at NRG where Marge worked use to work and retired from. I remember the many conversations that we use to have about her garden, Bob and her blue Russian cat. Marge would talk about her grand children fondly. I will truly miss her. She was such a wonderful person. My condolences go out to Bob and the rest of her family. We loved her at NRG and she will be sorely missed.

Eunice Marlene Zyontz

Posted at 05:48pm
Sending you ,Michael and family my heartfelt condolences. I was always inspired by her strength, courage, intelligence, and creativity. Hoping for love, peace and comfort for all of you at this difficult time. So many wonderful and happy memories of time spent with both of you. A donation has been made to Sloan Kettering in her name.

Patricia Kraft

Posted at 09:56am
Bob, Larry and I are shocked and saddened to learn of Margaret's death. We will always see her out in your yard turning the area into a green haven for us, as your neighbor, and for the birds and wildlife that loved to live there. Our prayers are with you.

Claudia Pellegrini

Posted at 12:51pm
Sending love and light to Bob and the family. Love you.

Eileen Renda

Posted at 04:39pm
Although I never met Margaret in this life, I know from my friendship with her brother, Ben, and his wife, Carole, what a truly remarkable woman she was. May she Rest in Peace!

Franne Demetrician Posted at 04:01pm

We are deeply saddened by the news of the loss of Marge. I have so many wonderful memories of the time I spent with her. Her talent still inspires me. Know that Bob and I send love and warm hugs to the entire family. We would like very much to attend the Celw ration of Life Ceremony when it happens. Until Then know that you are in our hearts,

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