Mary Lou Parker

Mary Lou Parker, aged 71, passed away peacefully on the morning of May 19, 2024, in Bakersfield, Calif. 

She was born in Bakersfield on August 12, 1952, to Myrtle Jean Park and William “Bill” H. Park. Mary Lou was a proud mother and grandmother, known to her grandkids as “Grandma Lou-Lou.”

She graduated from West High School in 1970 and would later become a Registered Nurse. After obtaining an associate degree from Bakersfield College in Nursing in 1988, Mary Lou became certified in Pediatric Nursing through the American Nurses Association in 1991. Throughout her professional career, Mary Lou continuously expanded her knowledge base and skill set. She achieved various continuing education accreditations and, in 2014, graduated from Colorado Technical University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

She began an extensive career as a passionate and dedicated Registered Nurse for over 30 years, touching countless lives with her excellent care and leaving a lasting impact on the healthcare community. Mary Lou dedicated roughly 10 years at Mercy Southwest, where she was nominated as “Nurse of the Year” in 1996 as presented by the Kern Registered Nurses Society. As a staff nurse specializing in pediatrics and an administrative coordinator on evenings and weekends, Mary Lou excelled in patient care and carried an astute understanding of other’s needs. She was both deeply empathetic and remarkably skilled. Her colleagues and patients remember her for her warmth, giving nature, and uncanny ability to make people feel understood and cared for.

Her sister, Karen Andresen, joined Mary Lou at Mercy Southwest for roughly six years, adding to their already intertwined life from childhood through adulthood. Born three years after Karen, Mary Lou’s childhood was marked by a spirited determination to keep up with her older sister, leading to plenty of shared adventures. Mary Lou’s love for the people around her was evident and unavoidable — her caring nature allowed many to find comfort in her to share their own stories, allowing Mary Lou to minister and guide them. From 1994-1998, she was the youth ministry leader at St. John’s Lutheran Church, where she grew her desire to lovingly guide and serve others — a feature she kept close throughout her life.

Answering the call to help others, Mary Lou dedicated her time to providing compassionate care in home health and hospice settings, where she also held various leadership roles. Before retirement, Mary Lou served as an LVN instructor at the Bakersfield Adult School from 2015 to 2017. Approximately 120 students were educated by Mary Lou, ensuring the next generation of nurses were ready to assist patients.

Along with her commitment to the medical industry, Mary Lou wholeheartedly served her community as a member of the Kern County Grand Jury from 1985 to 1986.

Mary Lou is survived by her children, Monica Johnson, Russell Johnson and his wife Susanne Rego-Johnson, and Daniel Johnson, her husband Lonnie Parker, her sister Karen Andresen, her former husband Tom Johnson and her mother Myrt Park along with her eleven beloved grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Though she may no longer be with us, Mary Lou “Lou Lou” Parker’s legacy of kindness, care, and compassion will continue to inspire and guide those fortunate enough to know and love her. Her memory will be cherished by her family and the countless lives she impacted through her remarkable journey as a nurse, friend, and mentor.

A service will be held at 1 p.m. on June 8 at St. John’s Lutheran Church (4500 Buena Vista Rd, Bakersfield, CA 93311). A celebration of life will follow directly after the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to St. John’s Lutheran Church Youth Group (reference Mary Lou Memorial) or the Kern County Autism Center at www.kerncountyautismcenter.org.

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