Joyce Walker Gann, high school sweetheart and wife of Don Gann for nearly 70 years, passed away peacefully on February 21 at the family home in Redland.
Joyce was the only daughter of Herman Walker, a prominent tomato farmer, and Thelma Turner Thomas, a banking executive, both of Miami-Dade County. She was born on February 5, 1932 in Homestead. She attended Redland Farmlife School, and later Homestead High, where she met Don. The two married in 1950 and raised a family in Perrine and then in Redland, where they built a cutting-edge energy efficient home without air conditioning.
Early conservationists, Joyce and Don began restoring the native forest on their property in the 1960s. They began attending Native Plant Workshop
to better understand the nature around them, and Joyce became a naturalist for Miami-Dade County in the 1970s. Soon thereafter she and the family
established Gann’s Native Tropical Greenery, one of the first native plant businesses in Florida. In the 1980s Joyce helped establish the Florida Native Plant Society and its Dade Chapter, the Institute for Regional Conservation, and the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. She and Don jointly received numerous awards and acknowledgements from these and other organizations.
Joyce served her community as a long-time Girl Scout leader and Red Cross Canoe Instructor. She was a powerful mentor of young women, teaching self-
confidence, responsibility, persistence, and other critical skills for becoming successful adults and leaders. She taught her own children to be good to all people, no matter their gender, race, economic background, and personal or cultural differences; to do good at home and abroad. To encourage her children to read, and to spend more time outdoors and with each other, no TV was allowed in the family home for many years. She was an adventurer, traveling much of the Caribbean and Latin America for work and
pleasure, hiking and camping in Florida and beyond, and whitewater canoeing in the Appalachians. After retirement, she and Don drove from Redland to Alaska and back in their camper van, visiting friends and family along the way.
She is pre-deceased by her parents and her half-brother Patrick McGarrah. She is survived by her devoted husband, G. Donald Gann; her half-sister Lynn French (Tom); three children, Marilyn Baggett (Bill), Debbie West (A.J.), George Gann (Egdomilia); four grandchildren, Justin West, Jeff Baggett (Evan), Leif Gann-Matzen, Maya Gann; one great grandson Will Baggett; plus countless other family members and friends.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, March 1st at Castellow Hammock Park, from 2-5 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Florida Native Plant Society’s Conservation Grants -https://forms.fnps.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=32