Fran Parish, affectionately referred to as “the cookie lady,” makes Spring Arbor Senior Living smell like home.
“She draws people from all over the building with the smell of her cooking,” said fellow resident Dorothy Johnson.
Frequently, she can be found in the activities kitchen, rolling up cookie dough before anyone else is awake or has had their breakfast. But to make things even better, she wraps up two to three cookies and delivers them to all of the other residents as well as the staff members.
“Downstairs we have a memory unit, and she always goes down and brings them cookies too,” Johnson said. “She’s very generous.”
When Parish was asked where she learned to bake so well, her frank answer was, “Not from my mother. I was self-taught.”
Parish grew up on a farm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and decided she wanted to become a nurse. She came to Washington, D.C. for nursing school and met her husband while at the park. Together they had six children and that’s when her baking began. She would bake for their school activities as well as for her church. Once her kids were all out of the house, she continued to bake their favorite cookies for the holidays, an activity she continues to do.
Before coming to Spring Arbor two years ago, she lived in another senior living home where she made all of the baked goods for the complex. She now bakes two to three times per week, if not more.
While most people request chocolate chip cookies from her, she prefers gingerbread. Asked about her secret ingredient, she said the Giant brand margarine.
“I call it my baking therapy,” Parish said.