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Quilcene resident holds out hope for family missing in Oso mudslide
By PAUL GOTTLIEB
Peninsula Daily News
QUILCENE — Tamara Lenzen believes she lost her sister-in-law, Marcy Satterlee, 61, to the Oso mudslide.
But Lenzen was still hoping March 27 that her brother, Thom Satterlee, 65, and her grandniece, Delaney Webb, 19, were still alive.
“Yes, I am, because I know that they have found people alive two weeks later from other tragic incidents,” said Lenzen, 55, a resident of the Quilcene area.
Marcy and Thom Satterlee's house lay directly in the path of the wall of mud and debris that suddenly rushed over Stillaguamish River neighborhood March 22, leveling all in its way.
Lenzen said her sister-in-law's death was unconfirmed by authorities, but she learned early March 27 that an Oso resident suspected he found her buried under the dense wreckage while searching for survivors.
“The neighbor said he had found a hand and went and dug up the body, and he knew it was her body because she was his neighbor,” Lenzen said that afternoon.
Lenzen, who raises goats for milk, breeding and showing, was being kept company by family members and a few baby goats March 27 as she counted the minutes. “I'm trying to keep myself busy so I don't start bawling again,” she said. “If I didn't have the animals, I'd probably be going nuts right now.”
Lenzen counts herself lucky that her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren live with her.
“We give each other lots of hugs,” she said. “I'm talking to a lot of friends, doing a lot of praying, doing a lot of crying.”
The Satterlees' daughter, Nichole Webb Rivera, called Lenzen at about 5 p.m. March 22 to say the Satterlees' home may be gone.
“We knew the location of the property but hadn't seen the maps or anything,” Lenzen said. “Then we got the address and looked on the Internet and saw Thom and Marcy were right in the middle of it.”
Marcy Satterlee was an artist — warm, articulate, strong-willed — and married to Lenzen's brother for more than 40 years, Lenzen said.
“She was very loyal to her family, a very kind woman,” Lenzen said. About 20 years ago, the Satterlees and their daughters, Nichole and Andrea, lived in Lenzen's house at the tip of the Toandos Peninsula for a couple of years.
“When they moved, they would come over and visit, and we'd have their granddaughter's birthdays here,” she said.
Thom Satterlee was on disability when the landslide occurred. As a young man, he served in the Army during the Vietnam War. As one of his duties, he retrieved injured soldiers after he landed by helicopter, anchoring himself to the aircraft by rope.
“If the rope ran out and he couldn't go any farther, he would periodically take the rope off and get the soldiers anyway,” Lenzen said.
Once, while waiting to see Satterlee in a California military hospital, Lenzen's mother showed someone Thom's photo. “A soldier walked by and glanced at it, and when he saw it was Thom, grabbed the picture,” Lenzen said. “He said, 'Is this your son?' She said, ‘Yes,' and he said, ‘Why, he's the one that saved my life, and without him, I wouldn't be here.'”
Thom Satterlee was on military leave when his younger sister took him to show-and-tell — as the person to show off and tell about. "I took him to class and I was so proud of my big brother,” Lenzen said.
Delaney Webb, the Satterlees' granddaughter, and her fiance, Alan Bejvl, 21, got engaged in October. “Delaney absolutely adored him,” Lenzen said. “They had moved in with Thomas and Marcy to save enough money to get their own place."
She added, “She was a really sweet kid, and she was very outgoing, and she was full of life.”