#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
El Pomar in 1939:
Spencer Penrose passed away on December 7, 1939, at the age of seventy-four, and was buried on Cheyenne Mountain at the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. Penrose was widely eulogized by the press in recognition of his many lifetime acomplishments: The Gazette Telegraph lauded him as the Pikes Peak region's "greatest builder and benefactor of the last quarter century", the Rocky Mountain News called his death "a distinct loss to the state and to the entire West" and the Denver Post reported that "Penrose made his mark as a human being as well as a builder and a philanthropist. Money never spoiled him. He was just as plain and unassuming and as approachable when he was rated the second richest man in the state as when he started from scratch in the early day mining camps of Colorado."
Upon his death, Spencer left $15 million to El Pomar Foundation, and his wife Julie Penrose was elected president of El Pomar Investment Company and El Pomar Foundation, and vice president of the Broadmoor Hotel. She continued to direct the Foundation’s giving for the next 17 years.
There were no new grant recipients in 1939, and the Foundation continued to deepen its commitment to several important Colorado Springs organizations, making seven grants totaling $74,700.
Grantee Spotlight: Penrose (Glockner) Hospital
On the north side of Colorado Springs’s Old North End is the 364-bed Penrose Hospital. Originally the Glockner Tuberculosis Sanatorium, it was founded in 1891, when Colorado Springs was seen as a medical destination for those suffering from the disease. The dry air was said to be good for the lungs, and many notable Colorado Springs families and individuals came to the city for that reason. Julie Penrose was one of these individuals, originally moving to the city with her first husband Jim McMillan after he contracted the disease fighting in the Spanish-American War.
In 1893, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati assumed ownership of the sanatorium and in the early 20th century, the sanatorium grew into a general acute care hospital, expanding its focus beyond tuberculosis by the time Spencer and Julie Penrose began to develop their philanthropic legacy in Colorado Springs.
The Penrose’s interest in Glockner Hospital was multi-faceted. Their interest in health and human services undoubtedly contributed, along with Julie’s devout Catholicism and support for the Sisters of Charity. An additional factor was Spencer’s own illness— he had been diagnosed with and treated for throat cancer in Paris in 1932; the disease eventually returned and ultimately caused his death. While alive, Spencer devoted considerable resources to the hospital and envisioned a center where individuals battling cancer could receive care facilitated by the latest technology. In 1939 he selected Glockner Hospital as the site for the Penrose Tumor Institute, and Julie dedicated the Penrose Cancer Center Pavilion in 1941. The Penroses were also able to convince cancer specialist Dr. Henri Coutard to work at the hospital, and the Foundation contributed to his salary and the salary of his successor every year from 1941 until 1961.
In 1947, the name was changed to Glockner-Penrose Hospital and eventually to Penrose Hospital in 1959, by which point the Penroses had contributed over $3 million. When Julie Penrose passed away from cancer in January 1956, it was after more than a month of treatment at the hospital to which she and her husband had given so much.
The Foundation has continued the Penroses legacy of giving to this institution of care ever since. To date, the Penrose-St. Francis Health Services is the Foundation’s 4th largest grant recipient, having received over $24,000,000 in El Pomar funding. The hospital has continued to grow and adapt to meet the needs of the Colorado Springs community, and now includes intensive care, emergency trauma, and surgical facilities.
Images courtesy of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services
Spotlight by Corey Baron