• Kevin Hessel

Mildred Ruth Shurtleff Ryley Sattler


Mildred (Millie) Ruth Shurtleff Ryley Sattler, age 96, died on Jan. 26, 2019, after a brief illness at Marin General Hospital. Born on May 8, 1922, in Buffalo, N.Y., she lost her mother to a terminal illness at age 2 and shortly after her father, Everett Shurtleff, remarried and left her too. Her maternal grandfather, Millard P. Ryley (d. 1947) took her in and formally adopted her on Feb. 16, 1925. Millard and his sister, Ella, raised Millie as their own child, eventually providing for her private education at Buffalo Seminary and at Allegheny College, where she graduated in the class of 1945. She worked several years for the Red Cross in Rochester, N.Y. and began courses that eventually led her to become a laboratory technologist by 1949.

Persuaded by her friend June to visit California in 1950, she found she loved it and moved to Marin County permanently the following year. In about 1953 she met a man, George Sattler Jr., and fell in love. They married on Aug. 27, 1955, at the Presbyterian Church in Sausalito, Ca. They began to build a house together in Mill Valley, but soon there were problems and eventually they divorced in September 1957. There were no children. She finished the house by herself and lived there until her most recent hospitalization. She was employed as the chief blood bank technologist at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco for 26 years, from about 1958 until her retirement in 1984.

A bright, charming, and warm person, she had many friends, who she delighted in “having over to cook for” and entertain. Among her many friends, there was a special place for those from England. She visited the UK at least 15 times, traveling the length and breadth of the country. She liked to talk about her attending Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, waving madly as the carriage drove by, and of getting sore knees from doing dozens of brass rubbings in numerous old cathedrals. Cats, too, were a very important part of her household. She usually had at least two, but sometimes an extra one would appear at the back door and she just couldn’t not feed it. Her most recent feline companion, Gato, passed away at age 15 just four months ago, leaving her alone for the first time since she began building the house in 1954.

Millie didn’t want a memorial or funeral service, but instead left instructions that her friends be invited to a party in her honor. Her remains will be interred in the Ryley family mausoleum in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, N.Y.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to Marin Humane.


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