Remembering Cristina (Maria) Rios Reyes of Audubon, 65


The founder of Crystal Cleaning Services and a doting mother and grandmother, Reyes is remembered as a friendly face in the community, and a deeply committed congregant in her church.

By Matt Skoufalos | February 17, 2024

Cristina Rios-Reyes and her grandchildren. Credit: Marisol DiFrancesco.

On February 11, Cristina Rios Reyes of Audubon was fatally struck by a motorist on East Holly Avenue in Haddon Township.

Born July 24, 1958, Reyes, a 65-year-old sister, mother, grandmother, and aunt, was a linchpin not only of her immediate and extended family, but also of her church community.

She was also a friend and reliable support to the various customers of her small business, Crystal Cleaning Services.

Her daughter, Marisol DiFrancesco of Audubon, remembered Reyes as a constant presence in her grandchildren’s lives, and as a devout Catholic who immersed herself in church communities in South Jersey.

“Her devotion was really between her grandkids and church,” DiFrancesco said.

“She would go to mass in the morning and at night every day. And she was always taking care of the kids.

“That’s all they knew: their father and I, and abuelita.”

In that respect, Reyes was much like her own mother, Maria de la Luz Reyes Ramos, whom DiFrancesco said passed on the same day just four years earlier.

“They were devoted to service, and they were devoted to God,” DiFrancesco said. “She told me so many times that she felt so happy and joyful when she was praying. She felt close to God.

“She found her home and her second family with everybody [at the church],” DiFrancesco said. “She was very happy that she had them.”

Reyes frequently traveled with her church congregation on out-of-town trips to destinations like New York and Washington, D.C.. She ministered to the sick and homebound of her parish, helping them receive communion if they couldn’t travel to worship services.

Cristina Rios-Reyes was a big foodie. Credit: Marisol DiFrancesco.

Reyes enjoyed spending as much time as she could outdoors or enjoying a good meal.

She loved hikes and being in nature, especially the beach; Margate was a frequent day trip.

And Reyes was a foodie, delighted to explore new restaurants, and try different cuisines.

“At the end of her life, she was also finding herself, and figuring things out, and enjoying herself,” DiFrancesco said.

Reyes was also beloved by her expansive family.

The oldest daughter among a family of 14 siblings, she emigrated from Mexico to the United States 30 years ago, and maintained close relationships not only with her brothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren, but her nieces and nephews as well.

“She was the favorite aunt of all the nephews, even the ones who didn’t get time with her,” DiFrancesco said.

“How loved they felt from her! She was always the one who would try to keep the peace, and keep track of everybody; all the things that a mom or a grandma would say. There were many people for whom she was like a second mom.”

Reyes also established and maintained a successful cleaning business, Crystal Cleaning Services, throughout her years in America. The relationships that followed from that work supported not only her own family, but the community of customers with whom she grew closer as the years wore on.

“Everything came from word of mouth,” DiFrancesco said. “Most of her clients, she’s been with them at least nine years, and she was like part of the family. She loved doing her job; she loved the expression on their faces when they saw their houses clean. And she employed a lot of people along the way.”

Cristina Rios-Reyes and family at Christmas. Credit: Marisol DiFrancesco.

DiFrancesco also celebrated her mother’s strength and resilience. Reyes worked as hard as she did to raise her children, and used her off-hours to support their families. She never learned English, but that never stopped her from communicating well enough to get along and to enjoy her days.

“She went through a lot of stuff in life, and she just kept paddling,” DiFrancesco said. “She was resilient, always one foot in front of another, keeping her head up. She’d get moving and nothing was stopping her, and she was devoted to us.

“We came here from Mexico, and she did everything to keep a roof over us, keep food on the table, and make sure we get what we need. She would cook for us all the time, babysit my kids; whatever we needed.

“She wanted to be happy and be everywhere,” DiFrancesco said.

Reyes’ family and community grieved her loss during the past week, celebrating her life at St. Joan of Arc Church in Camden City. She will be interred alongside her family at Los Olivos Cemetery, in Tijuana, Mexico, later this year.

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