Obituary: Mary Lou Stremfel

Mary Lou Stremfel
Mary Lou Stremfel

Longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and business owner Mary Lou Stremfel passed away July 22 after a short battle with cancer. Mary Lou retained her mischievous wit and childlike charm until the very end, and was surrounded by all five of her children at the time of her death.
The Stremfel family originally relocated from New York City in 1960. Both she and her husband, Joseph, were born and raised in Iowa.
Shortly after arriving in La Cañada Flintridge, her husband began opening local community pharmacies. Cal Med Pharmacy was opened in 1965. Then in 1969, the Stremfels opened Cal Med Pharmacy East (since renamed Flintridge Pharmacy).
In addition to her motherhood roles, Mary Lou soon got involved with the pharmacies by merchandising and selling upscale cosmetics, soaps, perfumes, jewelry and gifts. The young family also became very active in local community activities, including Cal Med sponsorship of Little League Baseball teams and helping to establish La Cañada Gladiators football.
After her husband’s sudden death in 1971, Mary Lou assumed an active ownership role in running the pharmacies. She continued to co-own and work at Flintridge Pharmacy until she retired.
Mary Lou possessed a talent and passion for designing beautiful spaces, whether they were in a retail store or in her private home. She loved fashion design, singing and dancing. In her youth, Mary Lou was a dance instructor and performed with her brother, an accomplished pianist, at various venues throughout Iowa.
At the pharmacies, multiple generations of La Cañadans were welcomed over the decades by Mary Lou’s warm smile and eagerness to help. She is survived by her brothers (Paul and Thomas Sanner); her five children (Jody Benson, Sarasue Spielman, Michael Stremfel, Joseph Stremfel Jr. and John Stremfel); 17 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at St. Bede Church in La Cañada Flintridge at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12. A catered reception will immediately follow in a hall adjacent to the chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital be made in honor of Mary Lou.