Mary Dee Sist
30 March , 1947 – 19 August , 2019
Mary Dee VanDellen Sist, DVM
Mary Dee Sist of Williamston was born on March 30, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan and was the daughter of the late Clarence and Clare Dee VanDellen. She passed away on August 19, 2019, after a brief illness. Dr. Sist was a veterinarian in the area for more than 45 years. Since 1992, she owned the Animal Care Clinic. She was a member of the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and was a specialist in Endocrinology.
Mary Dee was a 1965 graduate of Royal Oak Kimball High School. She graduated in 1969 from Michigan State University with Honors earning a Bachelors of Arts in Interior Design, and acquired her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) at Michigan State University in 1973. In 1974, Mary Dee acquired her first Saluki and she encompassed her life. She was a healthy active dog that loved to course on her farm. She died prematurely, and in 1999, she founded Saluki Health Research Foundation to initiate, support, and carry out veterinary research into diseases and health problems of dogs, with an emphasis on the Saluki breed.
She was prominent in the veterinarian profession for her extensive canine research, especially in cardiac parameters and pathology as well as cancer of the blood vessels, thyroid hormone, autoimmune disorders, and neurological disorders. She was published in many journals including those of the American Veterinary Association and American Kennel Club. She was a featured presenter at the Saluki World Congress in Helsinki, Finland in June 2008.
Her farm, Tazi Farm Salukis, is world renowned. Her dogs are with owners and have been shown all over the United States and around the world including: Switzerland, Prague, Germany, Finland, and Egypt. She has been nationally recognized by the Saluki Club of America and her contributions will be missed.
She also raised sheep, horses, donkeys, and poultry. Always a researcher and teacher, she included interns and friends in her research in synchronized lambing practices. She was and was an avid gardener and a member of the Lansing Orchid Society. Her orchids, zinnias, and daisies were the beauty in her day, and she was invigorated by her world travels, photography, helping her patients, and especially her dogs.
She will be sincerely missed by her dogs, family, friends, clients, patients, and colleagues. Mary Dee is survived by her beloved Saluki boys: Dehr, Bikr, Tiyee, Mehmet, and Morocco. A Memorial Celebration of Life will take place October 27 from 1:00p.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Williamston Roadhouse, 3700 East Grand River, Williamston, MI 48895.
- Memorial Celebration of Life Sunday, 27 October , 2019
Mary Dee Sist
4 November 2019
Mary Dee was an extraordinary veterinarian. She cared for all of my pets. She was also a wonderful travel companion. A trip to Africa was the highlight of our travels. I miss my dear friend. Rest In Peace Mary Dee ♥️
31 October 2019
We were deeply saddened to learn of Dr. Sist's passing. She had cared for several animals for us over the years, and we always appreciated her encyclopedic knowledge, clinical skills, and no-nonsense approach. It was especially enjoyable when she shared her passion for her dogs and the Saluki breed, and her resulting travels and experiences. Mary Dee, you will be greatly missed. In the words of James Taylor, "I always thought that I'd see you again..."
28 October 2019
I still have two of your sheep.
26 October 2019
I've known Mary since the early 70's. There are no words that adequately express my sorrow and condolences to her family. Mary was my "go to" friend on many Saluki health issues. We talked on the phone at length on many different genetic issues in Salukis. In her busy and hectic life, she ALWAYS took the time to speak with me on the phone. What an absolute, encyclopedic wealth Mary was, on Saluki health and genetics of Salukis. Her passing, is a tremendous loss, for those fortunate enough to have known her. Fly forever free, gentle soul and beautiful woman. You made a HUGE impact of myself, many people and most of all, Salukis benefited from your vast knowledge and research.May you rest in gentle and loving peace, amongst the cosmos and heavens. You are forever loved and missed, my beautiful friend.
Carol Lynn Ehlke
25 October 2019
I first met Mary Dee in 2009, when we adopted our George, a Clumber Spaniel mix. She was very knowledgeable about this rare breed and always loved on him whenever I brought him in. She encouraged me to get another one some day and referred me to her friend who is a well known breeder of Clumbers. After he died of hemangiosarcoma suddenly at the MSU pet emergency room, she called me and spent almost an hour telling me about that cancer and consoling me. She was so caring and compassionate. When we adopted our Teddy, the rescue group told us that they had contacted Mary Dee and she gave us a terrific reference. This spring, I finally contacted her friend who breeds Clumbers and got one of their puppies. Mary Dee made a special trip into her office to meet our little Henry and give him his puppy shots, even though she was very ill. She was so happy to meet "our" new little wiggle butt! I called a couple weeks later to see how she was feeling and was so sad to hear that the lady I had become so fond of had passed. She always loved on our dogs over the years, and we always knew they were being cared for by the best vet around. In fact, if it weren't for her referral, it's likely that we wouldn't have our Henry now. Mary Dee made such a difference in our lives, and she will be very sincerely missed.
17 October 2019
I met Mary Dee at Michigan State when we were both in undergrad studies trying to get into vet school. At the time she was breeding Afghan Hounds. I got one of her puppies and that was just one of our shared experiences. I became friends with her in vet school and we had a long and endearing friendship. She was a remarkable veterinarian and a great lady. I will miss her wit and wisdom which she had shared with me over the years.
4 October 2019
I was very lucky to have known MaryDee for the last 8 years. I worked in her clinic, with her at VDL and we did nose work together. Much of my success can be devoted to her guidance and knowledge. She truly cared about the people and animals in her life. My rescue dog was once was terrified to walk into her clinic. With time, many treats and just “fun” visits, he walked in there with confidence. We will both miss you dearly.
3 October 2019
I have had the great opportunity to have known Mary Dee since she became my Moms vet in 1974, then my vet, for our multitude or dogs and cats. Not only did she become a caretaker of our animals, but also a personal friend who shared my love of lure coursing and breeding of purebred dogs (ridgebacks in my case). Mary Dee was a depth of knowledge that I counted on and will deeply miss.
I regret I won't be able to attend her memorial-but I'm sure she would understand, because I will be at the International Invitational coursing event running the lure (hopefully for salukis)
Tallyho Mary Dee
2 October 2019
I lived in Williamston from 1980-2008 and MaryDee cared for our many dog and cat pets, as well as my husband’s clients’ bird dogs and their puppies. She did everything from office visits, surgeries, and even came out to our kennels to save us having to bring our twenty-some bird dogs into the office for their annual exams and shots. Besides being so amazingly smart and knowledgeable, she showed how much she cared for all of our animals by making herself available 24/7 when we needed her. We loved hearing her lambing stories each spring and just know that she will be greatly missed by the many friends she made along the way. RIP, MaryDee ❤️
2 October 2019
When I was a young girl my Dad took his hunting dogs to Mary Dee. He gave me a puppy that had become very sick. He told me we didn’t have money to treat her so she would die. Mary Dee treated her anyway, at cost to herself. She saved my sweet puppy and taught me how one should care about living creatures. I’m a physician now and I’m sure that experience helped me become who I am today. Thank you Mary Dee farewell.
24 September 2019
Dr. Sist was a wonderful vet. She took such great care of our Kino and now my Beal. We are truly going to miss her and her compassion for animals.
11 September 2019
I am a saluki owner rescuer lover .some years ago i rescued a beautiful white saluki called ibn from the middle east sadly my vet found that he had a chronic heart condition and was not expected to live probably more than six months i had met dr Sist and knew of her research i had my vet get in touch with her and under her guidance we had three happy years with ibn i could never thank her enough God bless you we miss you already maunallen gregory
8 September 2019
I first met Mary Dee through nose works classes a few years ago and marveled at her beautiful salukis. I instantly liked her, but was also a little intimidated by her. She was no nonsense and had a straight-shooting style. When I told her my sister was looking for a saluki pup she lit up and was ever so helpful in connecting us with potential breeders across the country. It became clear over time that we really wanted one of Bikr's pups. When the last litter was born I went to Mary Dee's house every weekend to visit the pups. I got to know Mary Dee through our weekly visits and admired how much she knew about raising puppies and animals on a farm. She was warm, friendly, and welcomed me into her home. My sister is now a proud owner of a great saluki and we are forever indebted to her for this gift. I wish Mary Dee stayed on this earth longer for it wasn't long enough for us to become better friends. Rest in peace, Mary Dee. You will be missed.
5 September 2019
Dr. Sist you will be truly missed. Their not many vets these day's that care enough about the animals and not the bottom line money. For people like me on a limited income, you were always there keeping the cost down for me and Sugar. We will always be grateful for that and don't know if we well find anyone to replace you. I'm glad we got a chance to see last month, but I did feel bad that you came in when you really shouldn't have. Forever in are thought. Sue and Sugar Jackson
3 September 2019
I was so very sadden to learn of Dr. Sist's passing. I worked with her for almost 4 years at VDL and I deeply respect her commitment to her profession and her love of her dogs.
She will be sincerely missed by those of us that were lucky enough to work with her.
In deepest sympathy,
30 August 2019
I met Mary Dee briefly 3 times at our Nationals. She was kind, intelligent, passionate about Salukis and a whirlwind of energy. I was blessed this year to have a little more one on one time with her in the company of her colleagues. She was joking with her peers and was so peaceful and happy to be doing the thing she loved, working with Salukis and the humans that adore them. Thank you Mary Dee for every good thing you did for us and our hounds. May they sing to you tonight.
26 August 2019
I'm so sorry to hear of your passing. How can I ever find someone to care for my furbabies with the love and compassion that you gave. Thank you for your kind care, advise and straight forward answers. You will be truly missed by our family. Ranger and Raina will never find another Dr. Mary Dee Sist. Rest in peace!
26 August 2019
Mary Dee did so much for salukis and the saluki breed. We are all richer for her efforts.
25 August 2019
Such a great loss of a phenomenal person. Wether hanging out in her barn, meeting her on the dog circuit or talking with her at our orchid meetings; there was always something to learn from her. She will be sorely missed! Prayers of peace to her family. RIP MaryDee😢
25 August 2019
Thank you, Mary Dee for all you did for the Saluki world.
24 August 2019
I was a vet student in 1999-2001 and lived in the flat upstairs above Mary Dee's clinic in Williamston. I got to know her on her farm with the sheep, dogs and hay, as well.
She was such a dedicated veterinarian and a wealth of knowledge.
I feel sure that she is being comforted and cared for in the heavenly realm now. And that she is feeling and enjoying the love and appreciation that our Heavenly parents have for her. Rest in peace Dr. Sist, and thank you for all you did here. ❤
23 August 2019
I am deeply saddened to learn of Mary Dee's death. We had many, long talks on the health of bot Afghans and mostly, Salukis. She was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge and passionate about the health of our beloved breed. I was blessed to have met her in the very early 70's and has always been my "go to" person for ANY information on Salukis. Always SO willing to help, where the dogs could benefit. Rest in loving and perpetual peace, my dear friend. What a legacy you have left for us to utilize and enjoy. You were deeply loved, admired and respected by many. You will be dearly missed. Love you ALWAYS, beautiful woman. ' Til we meet again in the nether, my friend.
23 August 2019
Mary Dee was passionate about Salukis, animal health and MSU. As a new Michigander she introduced me and "the boys" to scent work and other fun dog-related activities in the area. I am grateful that I was able to speak with her last week, and humbled by her grace in these last weeks. I will miss her.
Dawn-Marie & Paul Joseph
23 August 2019
Mary Dee- your kindness and truth was always there for us, Ruthie, Rudy, Maggie, Bella, Rocco, Glenn, Shitty Kitty and of course Guido Joseph. Thank you for your friendship. You really made a mark in this world and for that we are so thankful to have known you. RIP dear friend.
Paul & Dawn-Marie Joseph
23 August 2019
Mary Dee has been my dear friend for 40 years. I last spoke with her the Wednesday before she passed away and she was fading away. I am relieved with her being free of suffering now, and I am now grieving her loss. I share my condolences with everyone who knew and loved her; her coworkers at the University; her clients at the clinic in Williamston; her beloved dogs and sheep; her neighbors who looked after her in so many ways and all who knew and enjoyed her friendship. RIP Mary Dee.
22 August 2019
Mary Dee and I were friends for 50 years. She was a part of my family in many ways and on many holidays. I had great respect for her intelligence and her integrity as a friend and as a veterinarian.
I was with her six weeks ago when she learned about the cancer and it's advanced stage. I was in awe of the courage with which she faced her final weeks and days.
Thank you, Mary Dee, for your dedicated friendship. I already miss you.
22 August 2019
I knew Mary Dee just a short time since a family member was lucky to get one of pups last year. What a wonderful and caring person!
I enjoyed visiting the pups at her beautiful farm and watching her take care of the little dogs until they were old enough for new homes. She will be greatly missed , Rest In Peace.
22 August 2019
I am so saddened to hear of Mary Dee's passing. She was my vet for more years than I can count. Even after I moved away from Williamston, I kept her as my vet and drove for an hour, so that she could take care of my furbabies. She was so caring and loved the animals so much. I can just see all those furbabies waiting for her at the rainbow bridge to welcome her to their side. May you rest in peace Mary Dee. There will always be a specials spot in my heart for you and the way you treated all my babies, even when they had to be put to sleep. Give Sammy and Izzy a hug from me.
22 August 2019
Mary Dee and I shared many lovely times, with sheep,goats and donkeys and of course her Salukis. Lost touch for a while and reconnected this spring when I visited the diagnostic lab. Loved our short visit at that time.
Jeanne Van Wieren
22 August 2019
Mary Dee was our vet for many years. She was an invaluable resource for our years with sheep and took loving care of our dogs throughout their lives. She was always an advocate for animals and her heart was brave and loving in her work. She will be so missed!