Juana “Juanita” Crowley Florez (nee Serrano), 82, died November 24, 2020 after a long illness. Juanita is survived by her daughters Christine and Laura, her granddaughters Jaclyn and Allison Graber, and her brothers John and Fred Gilson. Juanita was born to Grace Murphy of Saugerties, New York, and Juan Serrano of Puerto Rico. After her father died, Juana was raised by her mother and stepfather, Harry Gilson (Gelsen). Juanita considered herself to be a diehard, quintessential New Yorker, who enjoyed musical theater and walking around Greenwich Village, but she found herself loving retirement in Miami Beach where she lived for many years. In Miami Beach, she found an open and accepting community, with its beautiful architecture, weather, and easier way of life. Before retiring, Juanita worked in retail in New York and at one point she owned a small business.
Juanita believed the privilege of citizenship and education is to speak up for those in need and to give back to the communities in which one lived. She instilled this outlook in her children and Juanita often gave her time and financial support to various causes. Juanita’s last volunteer position was with a Miami Beach nonprofit that supported people with AIDS/HIV. Juanita loved animals, especially dogs. A frequent comment made by her friends was, “Juanita, must you say hello to every dog you see?”
Funeral services for Juanita will be held in New York where she will be buried. Remembrances can be made in the form of donations to Miami Jewish Health Systems CNA Recognition Award or to groups advocating for women’s rights, civil rights/voting rights, or AIDS/HIV education/prevention.
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