Marylou Hernandez Armer: 1977 to 2020
A mileslong phalanx of Sonoma County police and public safety vehicles crossed two county lines and traveled more than 50 miles across the North Bay Friday morning in a tribute to veteran Santa Rosa Police Detective and former Sonoma Valley resident Marylou Armer, who was the first California peace officer to die of complications from COVID-19.
One by one in their police cruisers, lone Santa Rosa officers set out from the department’s headquarters to begin the procession before 8 a.m., forming a southbound queue on Highway 101, their lights whirring and sirens silent.
They were bound for Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center, where Armer was hospitalized when she died on March 30.
Armer grew up in southeast San Diego and graduated from Samuel Morse High School. Her sister, Marites Lau, told San Diego News 7 that Armer’s interest in law enforcement began when she joined the National City Police Department’s Explorer program.
Armer joined the Santa Rosa Police Department in 1999 as a civilian employee and became an officer in 2008; she was an investigator in the sexual assault and domestic violence unit.
Armer, 43, lived in Sonoma Valley for almost eight years with her husband Mark Armer and his daughter, a Sonoma Valley High School student. Two years ago, the Armers moved to American Canyon.
Armer was the first reported COVID-19 death in California among the ranks of law enforcement.
“She was a consummate professional and a joy to be around every day,” said CHP Cmdr. Aristotle Wolfe, who worked with Armer on an interagency auto theft task force 15 years ago while she was a field evidence technician.
From the hospital, the procession escorted the hearse carrying Armer’s body to the Tulocay Cemetery and Funeral Home in Napa. In the parking lot, her Santa Rosa colleagues looked on as the caravan drove past and departed. Henry 1, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, circled overhead.
“Marylou made a difference, as a detective and as a person,” Navarro said. “She exudes the professionalism and the character that I think every person in our department carries.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he and his wife were saddened to hear of Armer’s death.
“Detective Armer selflessly and courageously served her community and the people of California,” Newsom said Thursday in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and members of the Santa Rosa community as they mourn her loss.”
Armer is survived by her husband and daughter. The family has yet to speak publicly, preferring to mourn in private, according to SRPD representatives.
A public memorial for Armer is planned for a later date and a handful of Sonoma Valley friends said they will be planting a garden in her memory.
With additional reporting by Lorna Sheridan.