COLORADO SPRINGS. Mary Guenzel, foundress of El Tesoro de los Angeles Retreat Center in Woodland Park, died Feb. 28 at age 90. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated March 4 at El Tesoro.
Guenzel was born Mary Alice Wilson on April 29, 1926 in Denver to John and Harriette Wilson. She and her brother, John, spent their childhood in Golden. The family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1936, where she earned a degree in journalism at the Texas State College for Women. While attending college, she met Edwin Guenzel. The couple was married in May 1947 and had four children.
Guezel wrote for several newspapers in Texas, including the Bryan Daily Eagle and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She later opened her own public relations firm, Mary Guenzel and Associates. She was active in a wide variety of organizations, including Women in Communications and the Woman’s Club of Fort Worth. She was co-founder of the Celebrity Breakfast, which raised funds for journalism scholarships and was a much sought-after social event in Fort Worth.
In 1998, she returned to Colorado and began working on converting a 70-acre property in Woodland Park into a retreat center. In 2012, Bishop Michael Sheridan dedicated the San Francisco Javier Chapel on the grounds of the retreat center. The chapel, which was designed and built by Vince Colarelli, is done in the Spanish mission style and won the 2012 “Project of the Year” Award from the Teller County Chamber of Commerce.
At the time of the chapel’s dedication, she told The Colorado Catholic Herald that her goal was to create a place where people could enjoy “peace, meditation and a sense of God’s love for man. We tried to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out.”
In addition to her four children — Georgia, Richard, Susan and Mary Elizabeth — she is survived by four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, three sisters-in-law and multiple nieces and nephews.