But did you know that Juanita opened her own real estate office in 1968 with five other women sales agents? The office was located in Spring Valley’s Casa de Oro area.
When Juanita talked to men real estate agents about joining her team, she always asked the following question: “How would your wife feel about you working for a woman?”
Juanita said, “Some said okay, but others said no way. I told the ones who said ‘no’ to go up the street to the next real estate office because this wasn’t the place for them.”
Juanita was born in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and grew up in Seeley, a small city in Imperial Valley. “I went to a one-room school house with my younger sister and six other kids,” she said. “My mom had a third-grade education and she worked at the nearby Navy base. My dad drove a milk truck. When the attack on Pearl Harbor happened (Dec. 7, 1941), we had trouble understanding the enormity of it. Everyone in our town was sad all the time.”
The family moved to La Mesa when Juanita was age 14. In October 1950, while still attending Grossmont High School, Juanita married Glenn Mangels, who was five years older. Juanita graduated from high school in 1951. They later divorced and Juanita found herself raising four children.
“I was working at an airplane parts factory in La Mesa and an ice cream packing company in Downtown San Diego,” said Juanita. “Then, one day, I was at Collier Park with the kids when I met a lady named Kay Vanice who worked in real estate. At the time, I wasn’t sure about what a real estate agent did. A few years later, I bought her office.”
Juanita has been a broker since the 1970s. She was the first woman member of the Casa de Oro Business Association and later served as its president. She also has served as president of the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce and founded the Spring Valley Flag Day Parade. In 1998, she was named “Mrs. Spring Valley” by the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce. She was named a member of “Who’s Who in American Women” in the 1970s.
“Real estate is the best job while raising children,” she said. “I never missed one of my kids’ sporting activities or an assembly at school,” she said. “I’ve sold homes on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. The flexibility is a real plus.”
In 1988, Juanita joined the Spring Valley Lions Club and met Benny Williams, a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief with more than 30 years of active service in submarines. They later married, but are not currently married.
Juanita has been recognized with the “Lion of the Year” award (1992) and has served as club president (1995-1996 term) and as a district governor. In 1997, she also selected as the Spring Valley Lions Club’s Melvin Jones Fellow, the highest award a Lions Club can bestow on a member. “I have traveled the world with the Lions, it’s the largest and the best service organization in the world,” she said.
Juanita closed her real estate office in 1992, but has continued to work on her own. She has seen a lot of changes in the real estate industry. “Computers have ruined our person-to-person socializing abilities,” she said. “Years ago, every time a new office opened, a party would be held and it was an opportunity to meet and socialize with other agents. Today, people talk only to screens, not to people. Fortunately, our Association today provides many outstanding opportunities to socialize and meet new people, learn new skills and become a better professional. ”
Juanita is currently in her 10th year as a volunteer docent at the USS Midway Museum. “In high school I wanted to join the Navy but my older brother didn’t like the idea,” said Juanita. “Now, I’m fulfilling my dream on the Midway. In fact, they just gave me my 5,000-hour pin last month.”