The spa industry is collectively mourning the loss of Alex Szekely, a spa industry pioneer and civic leader who passed away at the age of 44 after battling melanoma. Alex was buried at Rancho La Puerta, his family's internationally renowned health spa in Tecate, Mexico.

Szekely managed his family's health resorts, the 'Ranch' and The Golden Door in Escondido, before the family sold The Golden Door in 1998. Mr. Szekely had been asked to author a book that would have been titled 'The Rancho La Puerta Way,' to have been published by William Morrow, but he had been forced by his illness to withdraw from the project.

Szekely was well respected in his community--receiving The Humanitarian Award for his contributions. Oct. 15, 2002 was proclaimed as 'Alex Szekely Day' by the San Diego City Council, in recognition of his commitment to the community. He was a member of several boards, including, local youth organizations, the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, and The International Spa Association (ISPA).

Serving as ISPA president and vice president, his contribution was instrumental to the formation of the spa industry. "Alex was the voice of reason in a sea of chaos during the early years of ISPA,' said former ISPA Board Member Deborah Evans, General Manager of Red Mountain Adventure Spa. "Everyone looked to him for guidance."

Szekely showed his commitment to growing the spa industry by joining with competitor Canyon Ranch to start the Destination Spa Group. In a tribute to Alex on, the president of Canyon Ranch, Jerry Cohen stated eloquently: 'Alex's contributions to the spa industry are well-documented. More importantly than those spa contributions, are Alex's constant reminders as to the purpose of our being. He never let us forget about the heart and soul of our industry. Not just by words but by his actions.'

A quote in a newspaper interview sums up Szekely's philosophy:

'My calling is to spread the message that if you wait, you're going to have to go through some painful understanding that health is precious. If you start taking control on your own, you will be able to skip some of that time and expense in dealing with the medical systems and doctors. I've had cancer twice. I've lived healthy my whole life. And cancer still happens. You have to take health seriously.'

Szekely is survived by his wife, Diane Szekely; mother Deborah Szekely; sons Jacob and Joshua; sister Sarah Livia Szekely. Alex is being remembered through contributions to La Jolla Youth Inc., 3908 Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037.