Juneau doesn’t often see a line of school buses out on a Saturday afternoon — especially one assembled for such a somber purpose.
First Student Inc. bus drivers held a bus parade Dec. 12 around the Mountain View Apartments to remember recently killed employee Mark Sateri.
“He was just a good guy,” said Mick Lowry, a friend and coworker. “It’s been tough on a lot of the employees out there at First Student for the last few days.”
More than ten buses adorned with signs remembering the deceased Sateri drove by the senior- and assisted-living residence, applauded by dozens of residents who came out to memorialize him.
“He’d give you the shirt off your back if you needed it. Anything you needed. Didn’t matter if it was scrubbing the floor or fixing a toilet. He’d do anything for you,” said Dean Blood, a manager at First Student. “He always had a smile on his face.”
Majid “Mark” Sateri was an Iranian immigrant who came to Juneau in the ‘90s, Lowry said.
“I used to hang with him in the early days at the Glory Hall when he came over,” said Richard Townsend, who attended the memorial bus parade. “He could barely speak English, but he was always great.
Previously living in California, Sateri took enthusiastically to Juneau, Lowry said. Previously married, though now separated, Sateri enjoyed the atmosphere of Alaska. Naturalized around 2010, Lowry said Sateri was happy to live in Juneau and in the United States in general.
“He loved living in Juneau. Didn’t want to leave. I remember how proud he was when he became a citizen.” Lowry said. “He was proud of being from Iran. But he was also wary of people discriminating against him because of that.”
Born with a learning disability, Sateri lived at the Mountain View Apartments at the same time as Lowry’s mother-in-law, who became his neighbor. He had trouble reading, but it didn’t stop him from enjoying life, Lowry said.
“She got an apartment at the Mountain View apartments. Mark was her next door neighbor,” Lowry said, “They became pretty close friends.”
Sateri was known around Mountain View and by his coworkers for being happy to drive anyone, anywhere.
“There at the retirement home, he was kind of their chauffeur,” Blood said. “He’d go with them or for them. He loved serving people.”
Residents remembered his kindness.
“He lived here a long time,” said Mary Tarr, another Mountain View resident who came out to remember Sateri. “He never took money for rides. I said once, if you don’t take this money, I’m going to punch you.”
That helpful spirit was part of Sateri’s whole being, Lowry said.
“He was always willing to take anybody shopping or on errands. Little things like that. Out at the bus barn, when he was between shifts, if someone was washing their bus, he’d run over and help them,” Lowry said. “There’s probably a lot of people that wouldn’t take a job. But he took pride in it.”
Sateri served as a student attendant aboard the special education busses, helping out students and allowing the driver to focus on the road.
“There was always lots of kids running around out there. Mark was always holding the kids or playing with him,” Lowry said. “I imagined all the students really loved to have Mark as the aid on their bus.”
Dozens of drivers at First Student signed up to take part in the memorial to remember their colleague, Blood said.
“He just wanted to be there to help. He wasn’t a huge talker. He was more of a doer,” Blood said. “If you needed something and he saw that you needed something, he was right on it.”
Friends and family, in concert with Sateri’s daughter, are aiming for a memorial in late March, Blood said.
Preliminary hearings for Joshua Allen Shaff, 30, Sateri’s neighbor who was arrested for murder in November, are scheduled for Jan. 14, 2021.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or email@example.com.