Mary Louise Avery was born in Wichita, Kansas, on Nov. 18, 1928, to parents Wilbur and Grace, joining brothers Kenneth and Wilbur (Bill). A few years later, the family moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she was raised.
Mary Lou was working in a bookstore, at 17, when she met William Greer (Bill) of Portland, Oregon, who was in training as a naval aviator. They married in July of 1946. While Bill was serving in the Navy, Mary Lou lived with his parents in Portland and at age 19 gave birth to their first child, William Jr.
In the summer of 1948 as the Navy downsized, Bill was honorably discharged and the family moved to Corvallis Oregon, where he attended Oregon State University. Upon Bill’s graduation in 1952, the family moved to Seattle, where he was employed by American Can Company, and Mary Lou gave birth to son David. Two years later, Bill’s job took the family to Redwood City California.
Around 1956, the young family moved across the country when Bill was hired as plant manager at Grocery Store Products Co. in West Chester Pennsylvania. Mary Lou gave birth to daughters Nancy and Deborah in 1957 and 1960, respectively. Along with raising four children, she found time to volunteer at the Chester County Historical Society, deepening her love of history and contributing to the community.
Mary Lou's marriage ended in divorce after 30 years. Undaunted and resilient, she continued her education and became certified as a licensed practical nurse. In 1977 Mary Lou reconnected with Joe Adkins, a family friend from Bill’s Navy years; Joe’s wife had died in 1976. As Mary Lou’s relationship with Joe deepened, she moved from Pennsylvania to Oregon, where three of her four children were living, and worked as an LPN.
Mary Lou and Joe married in December 1978, and she moved to Coronado. She continued working as an LPN and greatly enjoyed volunteering as a docent at the Hotel del Coronado. She and Joe traveled the globe together.
When Joe was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she cared for him in their home until shortly before his death in September 2010.
A few months later it became apparent that Mary Lou suffered from dementia. Her children moved her to Touchmark, a continuing care facility in Vancouver, Washington, where she passed peacefully on October 10, 2019, with her daughters and their spouses by her side.
The family deeply appreciates the care provided by Nurse Katrina Kleiber and the memory care unit caregivers at Touchmark.
In her final act of love and care for others, Mary Lou donated her body to Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland, for medical research.
Mary Lou is survived by her children, William F. (Carol) Greer Jr., David L. (Kiyoko) Greer, Nancy G. (Larry) Baird, and Deborah G. (Randon) Walker; Joe’s children Nanette A. (David) Tomsky, Suzanne A. (Craig) Clarke, and Tom (Lisa) Adkins; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Mary Lou's four children recall how she lovingly referred to each of them as her "precious bundle of joy, gift of Heaven, born of love." Also memorable to each of the four children was her constant reassurance that she loved each child “with all my heart.” A mother’s life on earth will end, but her love for her children is endless.
The family encourages donations to Alzheimer's disease research in memory of Mary Lou Adkins.