The Sunshine Lady Foundation Board of Directors is grieved to announce the death of our dear dear friend and colleague Mary Ellen Box who passed away on September 16, 2019, at her home in Newport NC. Mary Ellen has been a Sunshine Lady Foundation staff member ever since Doris Buffett began the process of establishing the Foundation in 1996. Doris turned to Mary Ellen for advice and help, knowing her as CEO and co-owner of Carolina Swamp Sauce, Inc, in which Doris was an early investor. Together they crafted the founding of the Sunshine Lady Foundation. Mary Ellen served as Director of the Sunshine Lady Eastern North Carolina scholarship program for over 20 years, until the day of her death. Having obtained her Masters of Education from Eastern Carolina University, she was well equipped to guide many first generation students from Eastern NC through college. While she didn’t have any children of her own, Mary Ellen mothered and nurtured up to 150 students every year for the Foundation.
Mary Ellen was a whirlwind, a force of nature, a woman of many extraordinary talents and energy. She was a photographer with a keen eye for nature’s beauty and a mentor with a heart of gold. She was a fantastic cook who delighted in whipping up a delicious meal for a crowd which she did with gusto. She had a mind that processed information quickly and a reliable ability to grasp the essence of a choice or dilemma. Mary Ellen was a go to leader who was always generous with her time, talent and spiritual counseling. She had a riotous and sometimes raucous sense of humor which we counted on to enliven all of our Sunshine Lady retreats and meetings. Her passing leaves a huge whole at the center of our Foundation family.
Mary Ellen, front, with Doris Buffett, Judy Wooten and Rebecca Currie.
Mary Ellen is survived by her husband of 27 years, Rev. Dr. Jerry Allan Box; sisters, Sandra Pearce Dean and husband Roger, Phyllis Turner Zerkle and husband Scott and Minda Pearce Harris; brother, Floyd M. Pearce and wife Betty; her furry dog friends, Lulu and Trina; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Floyd and Gladys Pearce and sister, Judith Jan Pearce Harris.