media center

Organ and Eye Donor
Age 41 ~ Lafayette, CA
Donated on 6/11/99
at Kaiser Permanente Sacramento
Medical Center

Honored by
Gary and Lois Foxen In Memory of Mary DeFerrari

Mary Frances DeFerrari-Perret was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, student, and beloved friend who touched the lives of many people. She suffered for 20 years with seizures and migraines resulting from a congenital brain abnormality. Despite her health issues, Mary loved real estate and decided to become an architect. She was working on her degree when, at age 41, she underwent a surgery that she did not survive. Mary's spirit lives on in the lives of the people she saved, one of whom is Gary Foxen, who first envisioned a Donate Life float in the Rose Parade and has helped shepherd for ten years. Gary breathes with Mary's lung and has been in touch with Mary's daughter, Jessica DeFerrari. The two will meet for the first time when Jessica decorates her mother's floragraph.

Mary's Story

Mary Frances DeFerrari-Perret was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, student, and beloved friend who touched the lives of many people. She made her home for most of her life in Lafayette in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born into a large Italian family who adored her, she was an excellent student, swimmer, and water skier. Mary excelled at making friends; she was the life of any party.

Mary earned a degree in Humanities from San Francisco State, but her education did not stop there. She loved real estate and eventually decided to study to become an architect while caring for her children, Jessica and Jean-Paul. She worked hard with her husband, Rob Perret, and the family eventually purchased a new home, which Mary helped to design, in Davis, Calif.

Mary led a very active life, including supporting various community charities, despite a congenital brain abnormality that resulted in seizures and migraines. Diagnosed at age 21, she spent 20 years on medication until it no longer worked. At that time, surgery was the only answer; sadly, Mary did not survive. The family discussed donation.

Jessica was 15 at the time and remembers her father saying, "This is what your mother would want." In hindsight, Jessica said, "For my family, making the decision to donate Mary's organs was not hard; it was the natural thing to do. My mom donated everything she could, and it feels good to see the domino effect. It's bittersweet, but it's good to know that others have been helped and in that way, my mom lives on.

"It is unfortunate that Mary is not able to communicate with us today. For if she could, she would surely tell us that her organ donations were one of her finest, and most rewarding acts of love."

A few years ago, Jessica learned that one of her mother's lungs went to Gary Foxen, the man whose letter to OneLegacy was the catalyst for Donate Life's participation in the Rose Parade. This December, Jessica will travel to Pasadena to meet Gary for the first time and have the unique opportunity to decorate her mother's floragraph with him.