At 15 years old, Juan Benito Lopez, Jr. moved to the Keys with his family.
Born in Cuba and raised for the first five years of his life there before his family immigrated to Miami, Lopez said Marathon has proven the perfect place to start and raise a family.
“I’m a Keys kind of guy,” he laughed. “I want to raise my kids here. It’s the most wonderful place in the world.”
His own father was the impetus for the family’s relocation to Monroe County 20 years ago. The career commercial fisherman was away from his family for a large majority of time, plying Keys waters for stone crab and lobster to support his family of eight.
“When I came from Miami, it was so different here,” Juan remembered of his teenage years. “It was crazy up there. Kids were so disrespectful. There were the gangs in the schools. When I came here, kids were so much more respectful in school and things seemed to be so much more under control.”
Eight years ago, Juan began his career with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, and four years later, he married the mother of two of his three children.
“Oh my God, fatherhood is the most beautiful thing ever,” he exclaimed. “Without them, without my kids, my life wouldn’t be what it is now. They’re the most wonderful things in the world!”
Deissi is blessed to be able to stay at home with Benito, 3, and Justin, 2, before they begin school.
“That really means peace of mind for me because I’m super protective of them,” he admitted.
Juan also counts his blessings of family still located in Marathon, throughout the Keys and in Miami. His parents or his four sisters always make themselves available whenever Juan and Deisi are sick or need to travel.
“They are always available to help,” he said of his close-knit family. “It’s awesome because you don’t have to worry. You can trust leaving your kids with your close family.”
He reminisced about the days before his two youngest children were born, when family parties went on for hours and consisted of elaborate and endless amounts of food, music, singing and dancing.
“My father plays the guitar, so there’s always music and singing,” he explained.
These days, though, Juan and his siblings are growing their own little families, so weekend get-togethers are spent traveling to water parks or visiting relatives on the mainland.
This consummate family man has always, following in his father’s tradition, been hard-working and very laid back.
“Even when I was younger, I worked, went home and just wanted to spend time with my family,” he remembered. “Fishing and working and being around family…that is my life. I don’t drink or go out to clubs…I just want to spend every moment I can with my kids.”
This weekend, Juan, Deisi and the boys hope to hit the road to spend some quality time together in one of the state’s celebrated theme parks.
“Last weekend, everyone was sick, so we had to cancel our reservations for the hotel and everything,” he lamented. “Hopefully, this weekend, everyone will be feeling much better.”
Juan Benito Lopez, Jr. is the proud father of (l-r) Benito, 3; Justin, who just celebrated his second birthday; and Juan, Jr. He and his wife, Deisi, have been married for four years. Happy Father’s Day to the proud papa!