Jeannette Williams-Parker, Nurse in a Virus Hot Spot, Dies at 48

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Jeannette Williams-Parker loved rock music from the 1980s and ’90s. She played AC/DC and Prince while driving or cleaning the house. The big, loud beat spoke to her mischievous side, starting from her childhood: the 2-year-old who took off running naked down the street when it was bath time; the young daredevil who rumbled down the hill in her Big Wheel bike, scaring her mother half to death.

Ms. Williams-Parker, known to friends as Netty, had a caring side, too. She was a registered nurse for 26 years, the last 23 of them at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.

“She went above and beyond her job description,” her daughter, Haley Parker, said in a phone interview. Once, Ms. Williams-Parker noticed that the parents of a sick child had been spending long hours at the hospital, so she got them a change of clothes and a meal.

She died on Sept. 30 at the hospital where she worked. She was 48. The cause was complications of Covid-19, her daughter said.

Ms. Williams-Parker was the first nurse in West Virginia to die of the new coronavirus, said Julie Huron, the executive director of the West Virginia Nurses Association; two more nurses have since died of it.

West Virginia was the last state in the country to report a confirmed case of the virus, on March 17, and numbers remained low throughout the spring. But like many largely rural areas, the state has seen a recent spike in cases.

It’s not clear how or where Ms. Williams-Parker contracted the virus. Her fianc√©, Bryan Ingram, fell ill with what he initially thought was a sinus infection. Soon he and then Ms. Williams-Parker tested positive for Covid-19. The Saturday before she died, she called her mother, Ruth Bagwell, to say that she was short of breath and that she had a fever. On Monday, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. By Wednesday, she was gone.

“She just never thought it would happen to her,” Ms. Bagwell said.

Jeannette Delphia Williams was born on July 17, 1972, in Fairmont, W.Va. Her mother worked as a cook for the Marion County Board of Education. Her father, Roy Williams, was a coal miner.

Ms. Williams-Parker earned her nursing degree from Fairmont State University and spent three years at CAMC Memorial Hospital in Charleston before going to work for J.W. Ruby, which serves as the principal clinical education and research site for the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Ms. Williams-Parker was a nurse supervisor of M.R.I. and a clinical nurse preceptor, a teacher for new registered nurses. At her death she was the nursing leader for all pediatric anesthesia coordination and the ultrasound M.R.I. program. She was working toward her bachelor of science degree in nursing.

In addition to her mother, daughter and fiancé, Ms. Williams-Parker is survived by her stepfather, Ron Bagwell; a brother, Bill Williams; a stepbrother, Christopher Bagwell; and a stepsister, Natalie Swiger. Her marriage to Brian Parker ended in divorce.

Ms. Williams-Parker wanted her daughter to follow in her footsteps. Haley, who is 18, instead enrolled in a pre-med program at W.V.U. to become a doctor.

Haley had been receiving tuition assistance as part of a program for the dependents of employees of W.V.U. Medicine. After her mother died, the hospital informed her in a letter that because Ms. Williams-Parker was no longer an employee, Haley would no longer receive the assistance. The hospital reversed its decision last week, however, and now says it will honor the commitment.

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