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Maureen (Sullivan) Darcey

March 1, 1952 ~ January 13, 2021 (age 68)

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Maureen Sullivan Darcey, RN, CNM

March 1, 1952 - January 13, 2021

Saxapahaw, North Carolina

Maureen “Reenie” Sullivan Darcey RN, CNM, 68, passed away Wednesday January 13 at home in the light of the brightest star, Sirius. Maureen faced her brain cancer with the same fortitude and resolve that marked her life. She was cared for by a host of talented and compassionate clinicians, surgeons and support staff at the Duke Cancer Center for over two years. Despite her illness Maureen continued to maintain her role as the matriarch of her large family and network of friends, colleagues and patients. She never complained about her condition despite some serious medical complications and remained engaged in the lives of her loved ones throughout her illness.      

Maureen is survived by Dennis, her loving husband of 41 years, three children, Caitlin Lowe and husband Ricky of Roy WA, Max Darcey and wife Rachael of Berkley, CA, and Alec Darcey and Crissy of Asheville, NC, seven grandchildren, Joseph, Abigail, Lydia, Andrew, Jeremiah, Ramona, and Remy, sister Francie Killius and husband Michael of Cary, NC, brother Tim Sullivan and wife Ana of Charlotte NC and Raymond Sullivan and wife Chris of Gasport, NY. She is preceded in death by her loving parents Buddy and Dorothy Sullivan of Buffalo, NY.

Maureen was born and raised in Buffalo, New York in a loving community of relatives who knew the meaning of hard work that they passed on to Maureen. She followed in her beloved mother’s footsteps and attended nursing school, graduating from the University of Buffalo, Buffalo General Hospital in 1973. She practiced in all areas of nursing for six years in rural community hospitals in West Virginia, in Kentucky working as a Jesuit Volunteer, and in Maine before attending Midwifery School at Downstate Medical Center, New York in 1979. Maureen moved to North Carolina with her husband Dennis in 1980 to work as the perinatal outreach coordinator for the Department of OB GYN at the University of North Carolina Medical School where Dennis was a medical student.

Seeking an alternative to hospital based birthing services she joined the midwifery staff of the Chatham Family Birth Center, the first hospital affiliated birth center in North Carolina. She worked at the birth center for over ten years and helped to establish the first Chatham County Health Department OB clinic to provide health care services to an expanding Latino population. Maureen’s passion for midwifery and the birth center model of care led her to receive a State of North Carolina grant in 1994 to establish the state’s only non-profit, free standing Birth Center, partnering with Piedmont Health Services in Chapel Hill, NC. The Birth Center was renamed the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center (WBWC) in 2003 after separating from Piedmont. Maureen served as Center Director from 1994 until 2019 delivering thousands of babies over the course of her career. She was beloved by her patients, many of whom returned with their daughters to have Maureen lovingly deliver their grandchildren.   

Maureen was a spirited advocate and leader in promoting midwifery services throughout the state, serving as President of the American College of Nurse Midwives, North Carolina Chapter and Chair of the NC Midwifery Joint Committee for many years. She was a dedicated teacher and mentor to CNM students from around the world and national coordinator for the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC), “How to Start a Birth Center” workshop. She received the 2016 AABC Professional Award for her pioneering work in training future midwifery leaders and helping to expand midwifery practices across the country. The American College of Nurse Midwives also honored Maureen with a scholarship in her name. At her retirement she was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Roy Cooper for over 30 years of extraordinary service to the people of North Carolina. 

Maureen was the proud mother of three children and seven grandchildren, all caught by nurse midwives. In her limited spare time Maureen loved to travel with her husband and family. Her favorite vacation spots were Topsail Beach, NC, Sanderling, NC, Fripp Island, SC, Sag Harbor, NY, and the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. She loved her beach time, relaxing and reading a book a day during her vacations. Maureen and Dennis were Broadway musical fans, roots music fanatics, and patrons of the theater. Maureen’s passion for feeding family and friends was legendary, hosting huge Thanksgiving, Christmas and Jesuit Volunteer summer gatherings. Her hors d’oeuvres and fruit cobblers were always hits.

Maureen was a tireless advocate for the right of woman to have birth choices and got into “good trouble” when needed. She was a wise sage who mentored so many family, friends, students and colleagues and taught them how to live every day to the fullest. She had a passion and energy for life that was infectious and she inspired everyone she met. She will be remembered as the brightest star! 

The family will mourn their loss privately and wait until the pandemic is over to hold a Celebration of Life. In lieu of flowers or gifts please consider a donation to the Maureen Sullivan Darcey Memorial Fund that provides financial support to WBWC patients who need assistance to receive midwifery care.          

Maureen Sullivan Darcey Memorial Fund

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