We say good-bye to Jessie Satia

Saturday, February 13th, family, friends, colleagues and students of Jessie Asong Satia, PhD, Associate Professor Nutrition and Epidemiology, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, teacher, mentor and colleague came together to celebrate her life’s accomplishments and grieve over her untimely death at age 39. Jessie was driven by a passion to understand and overcome race-related health disparities and to increase our School’s diversity. For someone so young, she had accomplished so much, and the pace of her discoveries and publications had increased steadily. Just last week, ¬†Nutrition had been notified that one of her recent articles, “Long-term use of beta carotene, retinol, lycopene, and lutein supplements and lung cancer risk:¬† results from the Vitamins and Lifestyle Study.¬† AJE, 2009; 169(7): 815-28.” had been selected by the National Cancer Institute for special commendation. We all would have benefited from her work. She had so much to look forward to in life. Her family posted slideshow in her honor.The service was at the incredibly lovely and peaceful Christ United Methodist Church. Hannah MacManus, Associate Pastor, provided a gentle, guiding hand and Darin Ford, Jessie’s brother-in-law, a minister himself, planned the service, sang and gave the eulogy. As Hannah said, that’s a very difficult role to play. Darin did it with awesome calm. I was moved by his assessment of Jessie as a servant, someone compelled to serve to make the world a better place. He asked of us all what we were doing to make the world better. That’s an important question. June Stevens, Chair of Nutrition, Christina Williams, one of Jessie’s former students, and I spoke during the service. (Will post my piece later)

My husband Bernard and I had gone to the wake Friday night. It was a cold, snowy night in Chapel Hill. Jessie’s family and friends assembled from all over the world-from as far as Africa and as near as Chapel Hill and Durham. Her family is strong, accomplished, vibrant but in deep pain over this terrible loss. I was struck by how rarely anymore we see each other’s families, yet our families say so much about us.

Jerry Salak, from our School, helped Jessie’s family with many of the arrangements since they were coming from Seattle. Jerry even knew who to call to get streets near the cemetery made high priority for snow clearing Saturday morning.

At the family’s request, we have set up a scholarship in Jessie’s name. To make an online donation, under “Select a School Fund,” designate Other. Under “Other Instructions,” enter Satia Memorial Fund.

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