Giovana Thomas-Smith was born on May 12, 1962, in Colon in the Republic of Panama. She was the second child born to the late Harold D. Thomas and Cecilia B. Ford. Giovana spent her early years growing up in Sabanitas with her parents and four sisters.
Giovana attended elementary school at Escuela Metodista, middle school at Colegio Jose Guardia Vega and high school at Colegio Abel Bravo. Giovana was very smart, gregarious, and caring evidenced by her multiple honors at school and her willingness to help her fellow students with their classwork. Giovana dreamed of being a doctor as a child. She began fulfilling her dream by completing her first year of medical school at the Universidad de Panama before emigrating with her family to the United States in 1980.
Giovana settled with her family in Queens Village and Cambria Heights, New York and attended City College where she received a Bachelor’s in Science. She attended medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and graduated in 1988; she completed her residency training at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Giovana earned a research fellowship as well as a fellowship in head and neck oncologic surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. After her training in Michigan, she became a senior laryngology fellow and a research fellow at the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders under the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD.
Giovana began working at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as an Associate Professor in the Division of Head and Neck Oncologic and Robotic Surgery on September 1, 2000, where she conducted research and did clinical work. She was later promoted to Professor. Giovana loved research and teaching, was a published author and trained others in the use of robotic surgery. She was held in high regard by her colleagues and patients. In 2020, Giovana was appointed to a five-year term on the Advanced Training Council of the American Head and Neck Society. She was honored by her appointment in shaping the fellowship program and was committed to helping the council in setting standards for diversity in training.
Giovana met her soulmate, Damone, during her time in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They wed on August 2nd 2003 in Miami, Florida. Together, they were blessed with two beautiful sons, Christian and Sebastian. Giovana loved being a wife and mother and enjoyed spending time with her family. She instilled in her boys the importance of education and the value of experiences. She curated trips for the family, ensuring that they experienced other countries and cultures outside of their own. She was very proud of her boys and their accomplishments.
Giovana was a bright, warm, compassionate, and embracing light. She fought hard to stay with us, but it was God’s will to heal her in heaven. Giovana loved deeply and was never afraid to show it. She enjoyed bringing people together, and she understood how to make people feel special. She was generous with her time and resources including her knowledge. She gave to multiple charities, volunteered at the VA Hospital in D.C., and joined “Doctors Without Borders” with her husband Damone, where they provided medical care for people in Haiti. She went to medical school not only for herself but for her family. Giovana was the family medical advisor and advocate, whenever we or friends had any medical issues. She had the capacity to hold firm to her convictions but was gentle and graceful in her approach.
Giovana was fun loving and lived her life big, always including others. She loved family fiercely, understood the strength that comes from loving and being loved, and she took every opportunity to plan and host family gatherings, especially Christmas. Giovana was attentive to her parents and made sure that they were pampered. Most important, she had strong faith in God, never deterred by her illness, and she was committed to sharing Him with others. She was the perfect sister and aunt, a blessing to us from God. She was a sweet and beautiful soul we will deeply miss.
Giovana was preceded in death by her parents Cecilia B. Thomas and Harold D. Thomas.
She is survived by her husband Damone Smith, her children Christian and Sebastian Smith; her sisters: Tania Thomas-Presswood, Liza Ford, Idania Thomas, and Kristal Thomas; her brothers-in-law, Severio Ford, and Donald Presswood, her nephews, Sevi and Gianni Ford and niece, Brielle Presswood and countless family members and friends.
The family wishes to acknowledge with deep appreciation the following individuals and organizations: Sabrina Blandford, Annette Daley Rolle, CRNA., Dr. Jason Jackson, Cassidy Purnell, Chris Scott, Donald Presswood, Lorraine Bell, JD., Betsy Vasquez Murray, M.D., Teresa Thomas-Ross, M.D., Severio Ford, Dalis Wilson, Jaqueline Wilson, Franklin Ford, Lori Hogan Waterman, family and friends too long a list to encompass here, Gio’s Department and the entire University of Miami family, thank you for providing comforting prayers, messages, and other expressions of kindness during this difficult time. May God continue to Bless you.
Visitation and funeral services will be held on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, from 10 am to 2 pm at Riverside-Stanetsky Memorial Chapel at 7205 West Atlantic Ave. Delray Beach, FL 33446.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.riversidestanetsky.com for the Smith family.