Deborah Szekely

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Deborah Szekely
Born (1922-05-03) May 3, 1922 (age 97)
Brooklyn, New York
ResidenceSouthern California
Notable work
Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta
Spouse(s)Edmund Bordeaux Szekely

Deborah Szekely (née Shainman) was born May 3, 1922 and is a prominent Southern California-area activist, philanthropist, and writer from Brooklyn, New York. She was named the "Godmother of Wellness" by the Huffington Post.[1] Szekely is also the founder of the New Americans Museum in Liberty Station.[2]


Szekely was the daughter of Jewish immigrants.[3] Her mother was a past vice-president of the New York Vegetarian Society.[4] Szekely worked as an assistant to Edmund Bordeaux Szekely.[5] They were married in 1939.[6][7] In 1940, the couple opened a camp in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, which they named Rancho la Puerta, where they could explore and test their ideas.[4] The couple had two children, Alexander and Sarah Livia.[5]

In 1958, Szekely opened the Golden Door, a smaller luxury spa property in San Diego and moved to Escondido, California in the 70's.[8] The spa attracted famous individuals such as Natalie Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Burt Lancaster, Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand.[8] In the late 1960s, she and Edmund divorced and Szekely took over the operation of the Rancho la Puerta.[5]

She founded (COMBO), Combined Arts and Education Council of San Diego County in 1978, which has raised over $25 million to support 21 cultural organizations. In 1978 COMBO raised over $6 million to rebuild the Old Globe Theatre.[9] Szekely was a U.S. Diplomat and the head of the Inter-American Foundation in 1984.[10]

In 2014 Szekely was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame by the Women's Museum of California, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Women's Center at UC San Diego, and the Department of Women's Studies at San Diego State University.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brenoff, Ann (3 May 2012). "Happy Birthday Deborah Szekely, Godmother Of The Wellness Movement". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  2. ^ Jennewein, Chris (1 April 2016). "San Diego Welcomes 47 Youths as Citizens in Unique Ceremony". Times of San Diego. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  3. ^ Blair, Tom (28 February 2012). "Philanthropist Szekely is a Perfect Fit". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b Szekely, Deborah (10 February 2004). "Waiter, There's a Guinea Pig in My Soup". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Gonzalez, Blanca (4 September 2010). "Behind Rancho La Puerto's Success". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  6. ^ Cosmos, Man and Society by Edmond Székely, The CW Daniel Company Ltd., Ashingdon, Rochford, Essex, England first published 1936
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-31. Retrieved 2011-09-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b "Californian Retreats: Golden Door, Escondido". The Huffington Post. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Deborah Szekely". Women's International Center. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  10. ^ Sterman, Nan (18 January 2004). "Fusion Garden". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  11. ^ Rocha, Michael James (29 March 2014). "Women Honored for Inspirational Contributions". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.