Spirited Living , Inspired Giving

Mary Claire’s Story

Growing Up in Wilson – A Small Town Girl at Heart

Mary Claire Satterly

Mary Claire Satterly

With a glimmer in her eye and a contagious smile, Mary Claire, 27, was born in Wilson, N.C. on July 8, 1980. MC was the youngest daughter of Chip and Joan Satterly and “Little Sis” to big sisters Karen and Laura, and “Big Brother” Stephen all of whom adored.

Mary Claire was raised in Wilson, North Carolina. In 1984, the Wilson Daily Times published a photo of Mary Claire’s uncanny resemblance to the spunky, spirited, All-American Olympic gymnast, Mary Lou Retton. Like Mary Lou, Wilson’s own Mary Claire had a signature Bob and a smile that stole the hearts of her whole community. She was the baby darling of the Satterly family and she loved nothing more than togetherness with her family and friends.

Mary Claire attended Sunday school at St. Therese Church, and enjoyed lunch at Dick’s hot dog stand after Sunday Mass. Saturdays found Mary Claire at Cavalier Soccer field, and later, on shopping and trips with her Mom to see her big siblings away at college.

Mary Claire cherished “Griswold” family holidays because they included annual family accolades, decorating cookie traditions and lot of laughter. MC loved her family home and never forgot her small town roots.

High School

Mary Claire attended Hunt High School in Wilson, N.C. Along with her academic pursuits, MC enjoyed playing soccer for Coach Petty and running cross-country. She also developed her love of the Arts while taking art classes with Mrs. Sullivan and working alongside Lisa at the North Star Art Gallery. MC treasured babysitting John, Meredith and Davis—a second family to her.

Mary Claire’s high school memories included “hanging-out” with friends and attending sporting events, especially her brother Stephen’s golf tournaments. MC’s greatest high school achievement was being accepted at Carolina. The minute she learned of her acceptance, MC eagerly shared the news with her siblings, teachers, coaches, friends…and even strangers in the Counselor’s Office. Mary Claire treasured all of her friendships from Hunt High School.

College – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mary Claire was very proud of her Alma Mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here, Mary Claire formed lifelong friendships in the Chi Omega Sorority and never missed a Carolina basketball game. Mary Claire had no problem navigating north of her Hinton James Dorm thanks to the advice of her Carolina sisters.

MC knew what she was doing when she chose to live on Franklin Street three-years-in-a-row! Sutton’s cherry cokes, late-night dancing at Players and He’s Not Here blue cups were just blocks away.

In 2002, Mary Claire graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received an Art History minor from her junior semester abroad in Florence, Italy.

MC – The Urban Southern Belle

New York Meets “The Carolina Girls”

After graduation, Mary Claire and the “Carolina Girls” Lauren, Graham, Jenny, Janie, May, Mary Grey and Wicker headed to New York City, where she worked for the non-profit Fresh Air Fund and then Deutsch Advertising. Her clients included Lens Crafters and Tylenol and MC encouraged everyone around her to watch these advertisements evolve under her tenure.

With some of her best friends in the world and big Sis Laura blocks away, Mary Claire thrived in her career, and enjoyed all that the City had to offer. MC and roommate Natalie, a fellow J-School alum, caught UNC games at Brother Jimmy’s and still found time to run races with Allie and others in Central Park. When Big Brother Stephen came in visit, hilarious memories were created at the ’12 Pubs of Christmas’ and “ice skating” in Central Park. Scoring tickets to Saturday Night Live left MC, Brother-in-Law Greg and Karen laughing for years at “their” re-run in which Greg dared MC to pinch Al G.’s backside. For the record, she did not.

In San Francisco: East Meets West

In 2006, MC traded Manhattan for the Marina District in San Francisco, where she worked for Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Goodby, like Deutsch, was named “Agency of the Year” during her employment and MC received numerous individual awards for her work.

While looking for an apartment, MC stayed with her dear friend Carolina, also a NYC transplant, and found the perfect spot on Webster, just up the “hill” from Union. Mary Claire’s studio overlooked the Bay, if, of course you turned sideways and looked between the buildings. The apartment was also “conveniently” located near some of the best shops and pedicures in the City. MC loved to take jogs through Crissy Field and over the Golden Gate Bridge and attended 6 a.m. Boot Camp with Emily, where they loved to compare “who was more sore” stories. Wine time with Martina and Laura and perfect San Francisco days with Jay culminated with MC hosting a memorable Christmas sweater bowling party.

MC was only an hour drive from her Big Sis KK, and thanks to Greg, who helped her purchase the Escape, MC often spent weekends in Stockton visiting the “Littles” aka her niece and nephew – William and Virginia. Of course, these weekends also included wine tasting, sushi, attending Karen’s “closet giveaways” and unlimited use of the washer/dryer. It was in San Francisco that Mary Claire shared “the Most Beautiful Day Ever” with Stephen and Maura on an unforgettable bike ride across the Bridge to Tiburon. There was not a cloud in sight.


MC hopped on planes like some people frequent the grocery store. She loved to plan the next MC/Stephen adventure in which their travel motto was, “Go Big, or Go Home!” From Las Vegas (I&II), to the Daytona 500, Honduras, Italy, Montana and any Colorado mountain with running ski lifts, MC had a knack for packing in memorable visits with family and friends. Besides qualifying for VIP status, “lazy travel” was also MC’s specialty. At Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, MC was content walking with her Mom, fishing with her Dad and heading out for a shrimp burger.

A Lady Always

Whether in New York, San Francisco, or Florence, Mary Claire was known for classic fashion and impeccable Southern etiquette. She hosted dinner parties, wrote countless hand written notes to friends, found just the perfect ornament for tree trimmings and called friends when they needed someone to listen. At dinner parties, MC loved to serve Eastern North Carolina Barbecue and deviled eggs with a side of…champagne.

MC delighted in standing up for loved ones as a bridesmaid in Karen, Julie, Lauren and Amanda’s weddings and becoming a Godmother to Virginia and Carson. A self-pronounced Christmas fanatic, MC loved the holiday traditions of rekindling ties with family and friends, and finding the child at heart in everyone around her.

MC’s Faith

Mary Claire lived her faith by treating others kindly. Her spirituality was the cornerstone of her innate goodness. She often recalled what an impact her parents and high school Sunday school teacher had on her growing up. She would tell others, “If you had a Mr. Farris as a Sunday school teacher you would believe just like me.”

MC attended Mass in each of her new cites and made many close friends with similar beliefs. In April of 2008, Mary Claire asked those around her to “keep praying” when she became sick with her cancer diagnosis.

MC Came Home

On March 28th, 2008, Mary Claire came home to attend the baptism of her Godchild Carson, the daughter of lifelong friend Amanda (Todd). Over the weekend, MC enjoyed the comforts of being home. She bought a new cocktail dress at Belle & Co. and volunteered with her Mom at the Brittany Willis soccer tournament all while suffering from increasing severe flu-like symptoms. MC’s concerned dad, a physician, ordered medical tests and just a few days later MC was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). She was immediately admitted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Still in strong spirits after the first of three painful bone marrow biopsies, MC promised, “As soon as I get home, I’m going to comfort any child going through this!” MC’s parents, Chip and Joan Satterly, and her siblings, Karen, Laura, and Stephen were all by her side while she battled the cancer. But on April 7th, just four days after being admitted to the hospital, cancer ended Mary Claire’s life… but not her “MCSpirit!”

Mary Claire’s Celebration Service at Saint Therese Church

(Recounted via email to Deutsch co-workers by colleague and close friend Justin)

“The service itself was held Thursday, April 10th and it couldn’t have been more beautiful. After a week and a half the sun finally came out, the trees and flowers were in full bloom and the birds were chirping. It was a spectacular day. Taking place at quaint St. Therese Church in the middle of Wilson – a more perfect community and Southern town you will not find.

The eulogies given by Karen, Laura and Stephen were poignant, heart-felt and funny, yes funny, just the way MC would have wanted it. At one point Karen said, I know Mary Claire is looking down on all of you saying, “Hey Stephen, get with it, MC invited all these cute girls, you better get some numbers.” And if you had ever talked to MC about Stephen, you know she would always joke that he is in his early 30s, single and has to meet the right girl, a nice Carolina girl!

Karen reminisced about what it was like to have such a great little sister, everything from bringing her to ECU football games and hanging with her on Franklin Street to MC coming over to her home in Stockton, CA (outside SF) to play with “the littles,” that is what Mary Claire called her adorable niece, Virginia and nephew, William.

And Laura told stories about how Mary Claire always tried to brighten someone’s day. Like the time she bought a bouquet of flowers as she and Laura walked around the city (NY). When Laura asked, “MC, who are the flowers for?” MC replied, “Well, I had this blouse with this really bad wine stain, and the dry cleaner was able to get it out so I wanted to get him flowers!” This story is indicative of exactly who Mary Claire was, is and will always be. Stephen coined it best when he said it is the “MC Spirit and its contagious.”

We continued to share stories and catch the MC Spirit back at her parent’s house and her childhood home. Surrounded by her family, friends and loved ones we experienced a true Southern spread, with pulled pork, slaw (cole slaw), biscuits, fried chicken, corn – MC would have been so proud. It was very reminiscent of the time Mary Claire came back from Wilson after a long weekend and brought in BBQ for the entire Tylenol team and she was so anxious to share it with us, she brought it to our 9am status meeting and boy did we eat!

We know that many of you could not be there, so we did our best to represent, you, your love, your heartfelt wishes. Mary Claire’s parents were astonished by the stories and deepest sympathies that we were able to pass along from all of you. They were shocked and moved about how much their daughter was able to touch so many people in such a short time. They are truly grateful to each and every one of us for our condolences, prayers, letters, cards and wishes.

So, What Would Mary Claire Do? She’d say, “tighten-up! Stop your crying, have a drink and celebrate.” And that’s just what we did and will continue to do in her honor. One positive that has come out of this is that we all have reconnected in some way or another. Let’s continue to honor Mary Claire and her spirit by keeping in touch, sharing our stories and loving one another. And just remember, when you are having a rough day, just think, “What would Mary Claire do?”

Mary Claire’s Legacy

The Mary Claire Satterly Foundation was founded by MC’s family and friends to honor her Most Celebrated Spirit. As this site sets forth in greater detail, the Foundation supports efforts to find a cure for leukemia and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. The Foundation also promotes MC’s passion for the arts, journalism and advertising. And, the Foundation continues to share MC’s story, her zest for life, her love of others and her innate goodness.

Establishing the Mary Claire Satterly Pediatric Oncology Playroom

Pediatric Patient in the Mary Claire Satterly Pediatric Oncology Playroom

Pediatric Patient in the Mary Claire Satterly Pediatric Oncology Playroom

The first of many Foundation causes is to build the Mary Claire Satterly Pediatric Oncology Playroom at the new Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, N.C., MC’s alma mater and hospital where she battled leukemia. Set to open in the Fall of 2009, the “Mary Claire Playroom” will forever bear her beautiful name and exude the spirit she herself brought to every room she entered. Here, recovering children will see MC’s artwork and her passions displayed throughout the room. There will be play areas for creativity, music (working on sharing MC’s dance moves), and many educational toys. In this playroom, children battling cancer can simply be children, something so dear to MC!