Cover photo for Janet Reese's Obituary
Janet Reese Profile Photo
1943 Janet 2022

Janet Reese

November 25, 1943 — April 30, 2022

Janet Elizabeth Reese believed she would live to 105, and if you knew her, you would have agreed. But on April 30th, 2022 death barged in as a stroke. She was 78. She was a loving, patient and generous mother, wife and friend, and her passing has come as a great shock to us all. We held her hand and whispered words of love in her ear as she passed (hearing being the last thing to go) and are grateful she heard us.

Jan was born to Marion Francis Reed on November 25, 1943 during the height of WW 11. It was not an era kind to single mothers. Daisy Elizabeth & Ellsworth Reese of Westerville, Ohio had been hoping for a daughter and adopted Jan early on. She was raised alongside her older brother John in a creative, loving home. Jan loved animals and spent every waking hour possible on horseback. She attended Westerville High School, was Homecoming Princess (though beauty was not high on her list of priorities) and went on to marry Jon Thomas Keyser after graduation. She had her first daughter, Holly, in 1962, and her second, Heather, in 1968. They soon moved to Chicago, but when they divorced, she moved back to Ohio with the girls to be near her mother.

Jan was the eternal optimist. She had that fearless, entrepreneur spirit, following her heart wherever it led her. Never worrying, always trusting that things would work out. In Ohio she worked as a legal secretary, and later, as a an R&B promoter. In 1978 she met Albert Gonzales and fell madly in love. They moved to New York City, settling on Roosevelt Island in an apartment with a spectacular view of the 59th street bridge. She worked on Wall street at first, but then began making jewelry. Entirely self taught, she could be found most days covered in dust from carving at the belt sander beside the window, or deeply absorbed creating intricate designs with fossilized ivories and beads. She sold her Art-to-Wear jewelry to Saks, Bendel’s & Bloomingdales, while her & Al opened shops in Amagansett and West Hampton during the summers. When her daughter Holly tragically passed away, and Heather was off at college, she & Al moved a few times, to Miami, Anna Maria Island, and Bellport, finally landing in Islamorada. There they lived in a loft above a boat house with a spectacular view of the Florida Bay. She opened a store in a historic church in Tavernier, selling her jewelry along with soft, organic shirts she dyed watery seascapes on that many still cherish today. Drawn to Jans good nature, people would come by and lounge on sofas in the back, talking for hours. She never judged and they felt that. Miami flower growers discovered her and began exchanging buckets of blooms for merchandise. This led to her next passion…flowers! She’d “play” with them, making creations for her customers. Again, entirely self taught. In 1998 her mothers heart began to fail, so she & Al moved back to Ohio and opened a small shop called Flowers on Orchard Lane. In 2001 her daughter Heather joined her. FOOL (as it was humorously called due to its acronym) became the premiere wedding florist in Columbus, doing over 3000 weddings in sixteen years.

Jan never truly unpacked in Ohio. After her mother passed, she sold the business and moved back to Islamorada into a home with, you guessed it, yet another spectacular view. This time with a big screened porch to enjoy it. She loved to listen to the chirps of nesting Ospreys, and watch as flocks of birds swooped down the canal at sunrise. Even the occasional crocodile sighting was a thrill. Never one to sit idle though, she opened Studio South, a Wedding & Event Floral design studio, with her daughter Heather. It soon became a success, winning Best of Florida in The Knot Magazine its first year open. Jan delighted everyone with her easy laugh, warm hugs, and loving spirit. She carried light with her wherever she went. She will be deeply missed.

Jan is survived by her husband Albert Gonzales, daughter Heather Keyser, and half sisters through her birth mother, Avryl Holden and Janet Hall (who she fortuitously met in 2017). She is predeceased by her parents, her daughter Holly Marie Keyser, brother John Reese, half brother Reed Blizzard, and her many beloved pets, most importantly Girl-the poodle (long story), and our beloved Gracie, who many locals remember. Jan missed her. We like to believe that Gracie greeted her on the other side with kisses.
A Celebration of Life will be held for Jan at Pierre’s Restaurant beach in Islamorada on Wednesday June 22 from 10am-12pm. Jan was not a formal person, so please wear any color you love, besides black.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite animal rescue . Jan would like that. She had become vegan later in life, and strongly supported efforts to care for our animal friends and our planet.

When she was young, Jan loved the movie Auntie Mame, so we will close with this quote, “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” I can see her smiling at this.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Janet Reese, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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