Garner marks 20 years as Wilshire’s parish nurse

by | Feb 24, 2023 | Feature

Garner marks 20 years as Wilshire’s parish nurse.

Linda Garner celebrated her 20-year anniversary as Wilshire’s parish nurse this month. In this volunteer role, she coordinates health and wellness ministries and serves as a resource to members and staff.

“The whole premise of parish nursing is the connection of body, mind and spirit,” Linda said. “If you’re not healthy in one, you’re probably not healthy in another.”

Linda taught for 40-plus years at Baylor University School of Nursing in Dallas, joining the faculty in 1970, the same year she joined Wilshire as a member. Linda said, “In high school I said I wanted to teach nursing. My aunt says I wanted to be a nurse from the time I was two and a half. I also wanted to use my talents in my church. Parish nursing is the perfect way for me to do that.”

Linda’s practice at Wilshire began in 2003 after a period of planning and training. At the time, it was one of only a few parish nurse programs in Dallas.

For the first several years, Linda was still teaching full-time at Baylor, and her work at Wilshire was considered “faculty practice.” Her dean at Baylor was supportive, letting Linda have Wednesdays off to be at the church.

Since retiring from Baylor in 2010, Linda has worked at Wilshire full-time. She’s in the office most weekdays and makes a point to be present when events like VBS and children’s camps are happening. Her cell phone number is kept by the reception desk, and she keeps her phone with her during worship in case of emergencies.

Linda stations herself in Community Hall on Wednesdays to provide blood pressure checks, and she is available to consult on medical issues. She said, “People will call and say ‘here’s what my doctor said. What do you think?’”

She offers first aid and CPR training, maintains Wilshire’s 10 defibrillators and keeps a supply of donated equipment — wheelchairs, crutches, shower chairs, etc. — to loan to those with a short-term need. Linda served on Wilshire’s COVID-19 Task Force and coordinates blood drives with Carter BloodCare.

One Wilshire member who benefited from Linda’s expertise is former senior pastor George Mason. As Linda says, “I can honestly say I saved my pastor’s life.” As the story goes, while leaving the building together years ago, George complained to Linda about discomfort in his chest when jogging. She insisted he talk to his doctor right away, and days later George was given a stent to relieve blockage in his “widowmaker” artery. Linda says she’s sent many people to the ER after detecting hypertension.

Linda also serves Wilshire in several areas she considers related to her official role  — coordinating support teams, leading Stephen Ministry and helping with funerals.

“I’ve always been a caring type of person,” Linda said. “I look at this as ministry.”

■ You can drop Linda a note of congratulations at