Lorena Walker, 85, died Aug. 11, 2011, at Huron Woods, a residential facility for memory loss patients on the campus of St. Joseph Mercy Health Systems in Ann Arbor.
Lorena was born April 9, 1926, in Blissfield, the daughter of Joseph and Marietta (Spadafore) Nizzardi, Italian immigrants who came to America in 1917.
Lorena graduated from Blissfield High School, the valedictorian of her class. She attended Detroit Mercy School of Nursing, graduating in 1947. She worked as a staff nurse for a few years at Bixby Hospital in Adrian. In 1951, Lorena graduated from the University of Michigan with nurse anesthetist training.
She married Ralph E. (Mike) Walker of Adrian on January 24, 1953. In her early years, Lorena and her surviving sister, Louise Hines (Robert) endured many family tragedies; the death of their father, Joe, in 1933, their oldest brother, Andy, in 1934, another brother, Fred, in 1937, and brother Bill, who died in WWII in 1944. When able, Lorena helped her mother and Louise in the family confectionery store in Blissfield. The store closed in 1956.
Lorena enjoyed a varied career as a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) while raising her daughters Martha and Michelle. Early in her career, she worked at Hillsdale Community Hospital. When Mike was transferred to Vincennes, Ill., Lorena worked at hospitals in Mount Carmel, Ill., and Lawrenceville, Ill. The family moved to Adrian in 1965. At that time, she began employment at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor.
She continued to work occasional weekends at St. Joe's even after accepting a position a few years later at Herrick Hospital in Tecumseh. At Herrick Hospital, Lorena soon achieved high respect from many doctors and nurses. There was many a night when Lorena wasn't officially “on call,” but most willingly returned to work to provide anesthesia for emergency surgery. Lorena loved her work and was proud to be a CRNA.