Krenz—Maria Krenz, 78, on November 9, 2022, in hospice care in Boulder, Colo. Her son, Christopher, was with her at the end. Maria’s partner, Mary Hey, who Maria referred to as the love of her life, and other loving friends were present throughout Maria’s last few weeks. Maria was born on April 24, 1944, to Marianne Donner and Alexander Fleischl (changed to Felhos following the Holocaust) in Budapest, Hungary. Raised Catholic but of Jewish ancestry, she learned to hide these things in a time and place where being a Communist was the only path to safety. Looking for shelter, procuring food, and trying to make sense of an incomprehensible world dominated her childhood. Maria lost her father at the age of six and became her mother’s mainstay.
After surviving the unsuccessful Hungarian revolt against Soviet occupation in 1956, Maria and her mother immigrated to Venezuela. She attended a Catholic high school. A deep desire to feel close to God led her to enter a convent. After three years, her fierce independence no longer allowed her to submit to the vow of obedience and she left.
In 1964, following a military coup in Venezuela, Maria and her mother immigrated to the United States. She received U.S. citizenship five years later. In New York, she learned English and worked in the loan department of the Bank of New York while attending evening classes at the City University of New York. In 1968, she moved to Boulder to study at the University of Colorado, where she earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, both in Spanish literature.
In 1971, Maria found her religious home in Boulder (Colo.) Meeting. In 1972, Maria married Jerrold Krenz. Their son, Christopher, was born one year later. After Maria’s dear friend, Susan Boulding, died of cancer, Susan’s son, Bjorn, became a beloved second son to her.
From 1976 until her retirement in 1994, Maria worked with the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) as a writer/editor and administrator, winning several awards for her contributions.
After a 30-year marriage, Maria divorced and found Mary Hey, who would be her partner for the remainder of Maria’s life. Partnering with Mary, Maria gained a beloved daughter in Emily Hey.
Maria was a devoted volunteer at Boulder Meeting, serving on virtually every committee. She was the meeting historian and archivist for many years. After retiring from NCAR, she focused above all on the cause she held dearest: care for the homeless.
Maria was soft-spoken and unassuming yet had a powerful impact on those around her. She combined unfailing kindness with the plainspoken clarity of a great truth-teller. Maria was a wonderful listener, bringing an open heart and compassion to everyone she met. With gentleness, determination, and humor, she lifted people up, supported community at every level, and made the world a better place.
In 2009, Maria published her book, Made in Hungary: A Life Forged by History, which dissolved whatever fear about being Jewish still lingered in her heart. She made peace with her past by sharing her story. Maria took classes to learn about Jewish history, philosophy, ethics, and life rhythms. In giving talks about the Holocaust, she found that bearing witness was her true calling, and perhaps the reason she had survived against all odds.
Maria is survived by her partner, Mary Hey; one son, Christopher Krenz (Sadie Wright); and though Maria never adopted Bjorn Boulding or Emily Hey, they were both part of her family.