Marcia Durfee

1952 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Marcia Durfee Obituary
Marcia Durfee

Marcia Ann Durfee, MD, a proud Seattle native, was born November 29, 1952 to Andrea H. and William A. Durfee, both of whom were descended from Mayflower Pilgrims.

Her family has been in Washington for generations, with Marcia's great grandmother the first woman in state history to receive a driver's license. With feminism in her genetic makeup, Marcia helped her working mother raise her two younger sisters on Magnolia. She was an accomplished swimmer, yearbook editor and National Merit Scholar at Queen Anne High School. She graduated from George Washington University in 1974 as a Phi Beta Kappa. She returned to Seattle to attend the University of Washington School of Medicine. She completed her residency there in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1983 and immediately began her clinical practice in the Seattle area. In 1989, she further focused her area of expertise to gynecology. Dr. Durfee was a gifted surgeon and teacher. As Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington, she shared her excitement for women's health care with the next generation of doctors. She was a partner in Women's Medical Specialists in Seattle from 1987 - 2002 when she transitioned to Virginia Mason Medical Center. She was passionate about evidence-based medicine, her patients and on-going learning. As a physician, she was a calm, deeply empathetic presence, beloved and respected by patients and co-workers. Her fund of knowledge was boundless, and she remained a valuable consultative resource for her physician friends long after her illness forced her retirement from practice in 2004.

Although Dr. Durfee was blessed with an incisive intellect, a deeply moral ethical sense, an indomitable will and a wicked sense of humor, she was given a tragically frail body. She dealt with many of her own medical and surgical challenges, especially over the last decade, summoning grace and resilience that continually astounded her loved ones. Her final illness, sepsis following ischemic colitis, came while traveling with family.

Marcia died on March 31, 2014 in Austin, Texas, enveloped in the love of her spouse and children. Those who shared the moment knew they represented many who have been the recipients of the unconditional, steadfast, generous, constant love that Marcia has lavished on them for so many years.

Marcia is survived by her spouse, Tracy Johannsen, their children, Bennett Durfee and Amy Johannsen, all of Seattle. Her sister Melissa Davis and husband and daughter Gerald and Kyle Davis of Seattle, sister Molly Hackett and husband Jerry and daughters Helen and Jane Hackett of Kent. She is also survived by Tracy's father, Jay Johannsen, her siblings, Jay Dean Johannsen, Paul Johannsen and Kristi Summers and their families, all of Montana.

Marcia was always engaged with her community, but was most devoted to her family. Her children are kind, loving individuals, and were her comfort and her joy. They will carry her legacy forward. Marcia leaves a large network of friends and colleagues who valued her many reliable traditions, including annual Christmas cards and her baked goods, even the gluten-free versions. She redirected her manual skills from surgery into watercolor painting in recent years and was a voracious reader. She was always the smartest, best-informed person in the room. She enjoyed travel, especially to Hawaii, but home was always her beloved Queen Anne. She cheered the Mariners, Husky Women's Basketball and the Seattle Storm. Marcia was Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a member of the Seattle Gynecological Society. She fought for social justice, protecting women's rights here and around the world. She served PATH as a Community Ambassador and Catalyst Circle Member. In her usual well-organized way, Marcia had already begun her fundraising as a table captain for PATH's annual Breakfast for Global Health on May 20, 2014.

Her family is eternally grateful to the brilliant Dr. Julie Carkin, without whose compassionate, individualized care Marcia's life would have been even more foreshortened.

Celebration of life will be held. For information, or to provide memories for the family, please contact Melissa Davis at Those wishing to make contributions in Marcia's memory are invited to continue the vital work of PATH in which Marcia believed so fervently. Donations may be made to PATH Attn: Development, at PO Box 19210 Seattle, WA 98109-9935 or online at
Published in The Seattle Times on Apr. 6, 2014
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