Gail Serota was everything to her husband, Joseph Serota: a coworker, a wife, a classmate, a confidant, a fellow gossip.
The pair met at Princeton, in Hebrew 101, and immediately bonded over their public school roots. She was, as Joseph put it, much more brilliant than he was, so meticulous and intelligent that many of her classmates would copy her class notes, without which they say they might not have graduated from law school.
Her brilliance got her into Stanford Law School, but she instead chose to follow Joseph to Miami. Years later, they both graduated from the University of Miami Law School. The two married in 1980.
“People would find out she turned down Stanford to come to Miami and think she’s crazy,” said Joseph. “She never batted an eye. It was like the easiest decision for her. We were in love, and this is where she wanted to be.”
On Sunday — three sons, a granddaughter and over thirty years of marriage later — Gail, 65, died in a snorkeling accident in Key Biscayne.
In her wake, Gail left a storied life. Professionally, she was a partner at the law firm Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman — which Joseph helped start — and practiced commercial real estate. Notable projects she was involved in include the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and the Homestead Miami Speedway. She had held posts on the Village of Pinecrest Planning Board and Commission and was active in their synagogue: Bet Shira.
“We just had an incredible relationship and a great deal in common,” said Joseph. “Being Jewish, being lawyers, public service, we just shared a lot.”
The husband and wife had been planning their Thanksgiving weekend for six months. Their three adults sons had come home from far-flung regions of the country, and they brought their families as well: two wives and a three-year-old granddaughter, Maya.
Gail, being the detail-oriented Princeton grad, planned for everything, even going as far as prepping little Maya for the roar of a 600 horsepower boat engine. As they rode through Stiltsville, they saw half a dozen dolphins. They turned off the engine. Maya cooed as she watched.
Then came the tragedy two days later. After the authorities took her away, Joseph rode the boat back through Stiltsville, where he saw the dolphins again. They were leaping and playing in the same spot as before, and he could swear they were the same ones.
At that moment, hours after her death, he said he couldn’t help but think of Gail.
“I’m not a superstitious person, but it was just like she was with them. She was free and happy like they were.”
She is survived by her husband Joesph, sons Michael (Michelle) Serota, David (Zabrina) Serota and Nathan Serota, granddaughter Maya Serota and sisters Summer Brown, Susan Lower and Amy Goldstein.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Bet Shira Congregation, 7500 SW 120th St. in Pinecrest.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to either the Jackson Health Foundation — https://jacksonhealthfoundation.org/donate—or the Children’s Home Society of South Florida https://www.chsfl.org/donate in Gail Serota’s honor.