At El Pomar Foundation, the name “Julie Penrose” circulates the office so frequently that it can seem like she is a close friend of the employees. During my experience as a communications intern last summer, this initially seemed very strange. After all, Mrs. Penrose passed over 60 years ago. However, I came to realize that I too know Julie. From feeding the giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo with my Dad to seeing incredible performances at the Central City opera house with my grandmother to passing Spencer Penrose’s statue every day on my way into work, the Penrose name is associated with many of my favorite memories. Recognizing her presence in my life, I wanted to know more about this amazing woman.
One night during the internship, I was out to dinner with some of my high school friends and a question emerged: If you could go to lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? I smacked my hands down on the table saying, “Easy choice! Julie Penrose.” Admittedly, my friends were a bit thrown off; they were expecting something more along the lines of Harry Potter, the inventor of Swedish Fish or the group of original Mad Men. They asked why I would pick Mrs. Penrose, of all people to have ever existed, to have lunch with. I thought about all the research I had done on her life and responded, “I believe Julie Penrose would be a lovely lunch date because she helped a city prosper with her huge heart and love of the arts. She had a major impact on a great city.”
After dinner I fantasized more about my lunch date with Mrs. Penrose. It would take place in the early twentieth century. Our clothes would be fancy and complex, and we would stroll down the streets of Colorado Springs in corseted day dresses and impressive hats. We would enjoy tea while sharing news from the city, her courtship and life with Spencer Penrose, and her hopes to enhance and help the people of Colorado Springs. She would share her love of the city and smile as she described its elegance and the people who had worked hard to make it such a vibrant community for the American West.
Emerging from my fantasy, I marveled at Julie Penrose’s love of place and people in her time and realized that it was this passion for her community that allowed her to leave such a positive and worthwhile legacy. I hope to learn from her story and emulate her greatest qualities in my own life. Her legacy will continue to live on in the work of El Pomar Foundation and the many families and community organizations she influenced in her long and impactful life.