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SCHS Teacher Dies of Sudden Illness
By Eric Heinz
It happened quickly.
A teacher at San Clemente High School was on her feet and crafting young minds of her English classes just three days before her death. It wasn’t immediately understood what had happened.
Robin Satterlee, 53, an English teacher and National Honors Society leader at SCHS, died sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, May 24 or 25.
Angela and Alan Satterlee sat down with the San Clemente Times on Monday to discuss the life of their daughter and her legacy. Robin was their only daughter.
“It was unexpected to us, but it turned out that she had endometrial cancer that caused a blood clot,” Angela, her mother, said. “The blood clot is what took her so fast. She called me Sunday morning and said that she wasn’t going to go to church. But it didn’t sound like anything serious. She just said she wanted to sleep all day. When I couldn’t get ahold of her the next morning, that was when I found her.”
Endometrial cancer affects women mostly in their late 50s and older, and both Robin’s parents said they did not know if she was aware of her condition.
Angela said Robin hadn’t asked for any medicine or any other remedies, so she figured her daughter wasn’t feeling “too bad.”
“We were totally shocked,” Angela said. “She did tell me she was tired, which made sense because she had a lot to do before the end of the school year. That was the only indication that we had.”
Alan said Robin was also teaching an extra class on top of her regular schedule.
“She was just very loving and very sweet and very affectionate,” Angela said. “She really cared about people. She was always very kind to people and the kind of person to take care of people.”
Alan said Robin was very dedicated to her family and always offered to help out.
“What I’ll miss is I won’t be able to call her to do whatever it is that I need done,” Alan said. “If she thought it was important, she’d get it done.”
Robin was an English teacher for more than 17 years and completed her student teaching at San Clemente High School. It was the only educational institution at which she ever taught.
“She loved literature, reading and she loved to write, so that was her first choice,” Angela said.
Both of Satterlee’s parents were teachers at Mission Viejo High School. Her father taught chemistry and her mother taught computer sciences and business. Robin went back to school when she decided she wanted to be a teacher.
Angela said Robin was a voracious reader, someone who would pick up anything that could be read. She said she was already reading by the age of 4. Mostly she was interested in Viking culture.
As a cashier, she was in charge of managing the $3 million to $4 million a day that came in at a large department store south of San Clemente, with which she would have to be precise in her accounting.
“She was in National Honors Society when she was in high school at Mission Vijeo,” Angela said. “She was very outgoing and very good at making speeches, getting up in front of groups, she enjoyed that.”
Robin’s educational aspirations took her overseas. She wanted to immerse herself in the vast participles of the English language.
“Once she decided she wanted to do more, she got her masters in literary linguistics from Nottingham University (in the United Kingdom),” Alan said, adding Robin enjoyed traveling to England to attend Oxford and Cambridge for classes.
She also was an animal lover and never afraid of dogs or other creatures.
But what really stands out in the minds of Robin’s parents is how fortuitous they were to have a daughter who was attentive to people’s needs and their dreams.
“As we’ve been going through the paperwork, we’ve come across hundreds of wonderful notes thanking her for the work that she’s done with her students, and many of those letters were written by the parents,” Alan said. “Many of her students went on to prestigious universities.”
Robin’s Christian faith was another aspect that highlighted her life, an attribute she shared with her mother.
“She kept me on the straight and narrow,” Angela said. “One of our favorite things to do was go to church on Sundays. She had a deep faith, and I think she modeled those traits to her students.”
Deni Christensen, SCHS assistant principal, said Robin was a lifelong educator who dedicated her life to impacting students.
“She was an extremely sweet and caring person, and she will be missed by everyone,” Christensen said. “She cared about students and just focused on their success.”
Cristina Craig, an SCHS sophomore and one of Robin’s students in English 2 period 6, said she knew her just this year.
“I am currently writing a book, and I hadn’t really understood what a reader wants,” Craig said. “She gave me wonderful advice on everything, and it really helped. She was very passionate about her work and she knew we could do better, so she pushed us beyond what we can do. She made me want to give people something to read and her hard work made me want to do hard work.”
A memorial for Robin has been set up in the hallway outside her classroom at the high school. Buckets of flowers, cards and letters to the family from students adorn the entrance.
Memorial services for Robin Satterlee are scheduled at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 6 at O’Connor Mortuary, 25301 Alicia Parkway in Laguna Hills.