Guisela Avalos, 95, passed away peacefully on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2023, at her home.
Guisela was born on October 20, 1928, on a farm in Guaramirim, Brazil, the youngest of ten children of German immigrants. She milked four cows before going to school each morning, and delighted in how the farm cats came to join her, hoping for some milk themselves. She was a life-long lover of animals.
Wishing more than a farm life, she moved first to Sao Paolo, where she worked in a department store, including modeling clothing, and then emigrated to the United States in 1966. In 1970, she entered the employment of the Long family in Greenwich Village, helping to raise Pelham resident Arthur S. Long, and managing the Longs’ household. This included keeping the brownstone Teutonically spotless, being delegated to buy Mrs. Long’s fashions, and cooking everything from chicken bossa nova to shrimp a bahiana to homemade pasta and chocolate mousse. When picking up Arthur from his school in the Upper East Side, she was never late, notwithstanding the frequent delays of the New York City subway system in the 1970s. Her laundry skills made Arthur well known in the physical education department for how clean his gym clothes returned every Monday.
After sixteen years at the Longs, in her late fifties, when some might slow down, Guisela fulfilled another desire, becoming an aide to the elderly in Riverdale, working twelve-hour shifts with her patients, some of whom were bedridden. She went back to modeling, for charity events at a Riverdale synagogue. Upon retirement, she lived in a senior apartment in Riverdale, where she became a companion to some of the older residents. She enjoyed dancing, whether it be an Austrian waltz or the samba, foreign travel, and trips to Atlantic City.
Guisela had an immense work ethic and was a lady of great physical and moral strength. She had no tolerance for laziness or slovenliness. In the early 1970s, at the height of the counterculture, while working in the Longs’ second-floor kitchen one day, she poured a pot of cold water on an apparent Hippie whom she noticed sitting on the Longs’ stoop (it turned out he was a New York City detective in disguise; he didn’t mind). She became a naturalized American citizen in 1980 and loved her new country for the opportunities and freedom that it provided her. And she gave everything of herself to the persons she cared for, for example, being appalled at how the replacement aides often left her patients when she was off for the weekends. She bore the physical decline of her last year with grace, humor, and acceptance.
She is profoundly missed by all whose lives she touched and was a shining example of a life dedicated to the service of others.