Dr. Yuet Mei “Sylvia Mary” Ooi passed away peacefully on Friday April 28, 2023 in Columbia, MD at the age of 81.
Born in 1941, Sylvia was raised in Ipoh, Malaysia with her siblings and parents, Peter Ah Wee Cheong and Swee Kuan Lau. She was a bright, resourceful, and determined person. In 1966, when it was uncommon for women to be doctors, Sylvia graduated with a medical degree from the Faculty of Medicine (formerly the King Edward VII College of Medicine) at the National University of Singapore. There, she met her future husband, married, and started a family. In 1971, the family immigrated to the United States, where Sylvia worked at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. They later moved to Wyoming, OH to raise their two children in the suburbs of Cincinnati, OH.
Over the years, as an allergist and immunologist with a focus in clinical and laboratory immunology, Sylvia conducted research at the Cleveland Clinic, University of Cincinnati, Harvard Medical School, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. She authored numerous articles in scientific journals, including Nature.
Sylvia was a devout Catholic who, during her retirement years in Massachusetts, served as President of the New England Legion of Mary. She was an active member and volunteer in four church communities. She will be missed at her main parish, Saint Mary of Assumption in Brookline, MA, where she enjoyed being a reader and attended daily mass. In downtown Boston, she volunteered her time in many ways at Saint Clements Eucharistic Shrine and Saint Paul’s Parish for almost twenty years. At Saint James the Greater, in Chinatown, she was delighted to teach children at Sunday School.
She is survived by her son James, his wife Amy and their sons Benjamin and Oscar of Short Hills, NJ, USA; her daughter Joanne, her husband John, and her son Samuel of Little Henny, Sudbury, UK; her siblings, Yut Yoong Cheong and Joseph Cheong of Malaysia; her nieces Helena, Esther, Yang May, Yang Ming, Wye Yee, and Amy; and her nephews Khen, Yang Wern, and Victor. She was predeceased by her sisters, Yut Lin and Yut Sim, and her former husband Boon Seng Ooi.
Sylvia was proud of her three grandchildren, who will remember their Grandma’s/Granny’s boundless energy, enthusiasm for current events, love of French cuisine (especially filet mignon), and joy in sharing the teachings of Catholicism with others.
A private family service for Sylv ia will be held in New Jersey. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Yuet Mei Ooi’s name to the Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine – https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/medicine/giving/index.html. The family will always be grateful for their ethical, compassionate, comprehensive care of Sylvia. May she rest in peace.