Nova Joyce Mullen passed away on October 26, 2019, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Some knew this Kern River Valley Icon as “Nova” at the Kern Valley High School, others knew her as “Joyce” at the South Fork School and Wallace Elementary School during her thirty-one tenure as a teacher.
Students loved her as a mother, faculty trusted her as a loyal friend and others simply marveled at her tenacious, but loving spirit. Her name “Nova” means “Bright Star” which was her “CB handle” in the 1970s when the CB radio was a thing in the surrounding communities of Lake Isabella. Nova often wore “talking clothes”, which reflected her bright and cheerful disposition and positive outlook on life. Nova was born on July 6, 1939, in Globe, Ariz. near the home of her parents who resided on the San Carlos Indian Reservation. Nova was a migrant farmworker who at times lived alongside the fields and roads in the central valley waiting for daylight to pick potatoes. Nova bore three children of her own and although her house was “full”, she learned at an early age how to raise and foster two other children. Nova was a woman who taught special education at Beardsley School and was a neighbor on the streets of Woodrow, Wilson and El Tejon in the town of Oildale. Nova was a woman who stepped up when no one else wanted to be a cub scout leader. She took her troop on pop-bottles drives and saved money to buy pictures of all her children. She was a woman who kissed dirty feet, bandaged the boo-boos on tiny bodies and wiped away the tears from dirty little faces. Nova was the crazy woman on the end of the bleachers jumping up and down after one of her children made a great catch or finally hit the ball. Most of those people at the ballpark came to know, respect and love that crazy woman. Nova was a woman who stayed and made sure the job was done right. She taught her children how to cook, clean, sew and even wash a toilet. Nova was a woman of fun and she was always ready to make sport of every situation.
Sadly, Nova buried two of her natural-born children; Renee Mullen was 6 months old when she passed and Scott Mullen was 33. Nova’s only surviving child is Terry Mullen, who is married to his lovely and gracious elementary school sweetheart, Wendy Mullen, who has two children of their own Tyler and Heather Mullen. Most do not know this, but Nova was “given away” in a court of law at the age of 14 and was shipped off to a “girls boarding school” in Ventura. Nova persevered, and at the age of 16, she was welcomed into the home of her Aunt Ginger and Uncle Gene who mentored Nova while she lived on the corner of 21st and C Street in Bakersfield. Aunt Ginger was a renowned dressmaker for the elite socialites living in Bakersfield and Uncle Gene was a night-bartender at a high-end business club.
At the age of 20, Nova was married to Bill Mullen, a transplanted Arkansas hillbilly living in Shafter, who loved to hunt and fish, but found employment as a rough-neck in the oil fields of Bakersfield and later as a heavy equipment operator for the County of Kern in Kernville. Unfortunately, Bill passed away in 2006 and went on to his reward, Nova never recovered from this loss.
Nova was a woman of laughter, of sacrifice, of love. Nova was a Christian, she was an example and was the “first love” for her boys. Nova will be greatly missed by her grandbabies, Tesha Edwards, Rachel Hibbert, Tyler, Heather, Sheena, Ashley, and Jacob Mullen. A memorial service will be held for Nova Joyce Mullen on November 23, 2019, at 1100 a.m. at the Church of Christ located at 6400 Dogwood Avenue in Mountain Mesa.