Mary Lou Gulley
MARY LOU GULLEY Mary Lou Gulley, resident princess and proprietress of the Mystery Castle, passed away November 3, 2010. Mary Lou's father, Boyce Luther Gulley, came to Arizona in 1929 unbeknownst to his family, to battle tuberculosis. Over the next several years, he built the Castle, an enduring structure nestled at the base of South Mountain and 7th Street that has come to be a much-loved tourist attraction known the world over. Mary Lou and her mother, Frances Bradford Gulley, came to Phoenix from Seattle upon learning of Mr.Gulley's death in 1945. Their determination, ingenuity, hard work and sacrifice made the Castle into a home for Mary Lou and a memorable attraction for the thousands of adventurous souls who have visited the Castle for over a half century. Mary Lou loved all the visitors and she was a great storyteller; one never was sure what was true and what was "slightly" embellished. Her storytelling was published in 1952, when Mary Lou won the Mark Twain Young Writer's award for her book "My Mystery Castle", out of publication now, but soon to be available again for all to enjoy. Mary Lou had many wonderful friends over the years. There will be an empty spot in our hearts without Mary Lou's wit and charm. Mary Lou knew there would come a time when she would no longer live in the Castle. To ensure the Castle and the spirits of her father, mother, grandmother Florence Fite Bradford, "Uncle" Frank Herberger and all other keepers of the Castle would live on, Mary Lou formed The Mystery Castle Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, to preserve and care for the Castle when she was no longer able to do so. If you wish to honor Mary Lou's memory, contributions may be made to the Mystery Castle Foundation at 522 W. 1st St., Suite 107, Tempe, AZ 85281. Private services are pending. The Castle remains open to the public so that all may explore the wonders that lie behind its magical doors.

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Published by The Arizona Republic on Dec. 5, 2010.
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13 Entries
I have been to the Mystery Castle about 10 times. It is my favorite place to take out-of-town guests. After several visits, Mary Lou must have remembered me--she grabbed a brochure and wrote on it "Life time pass for Mary. Mary Lou Gulley." I was caught off guard, but was also very grateful. She really loved denim, children, and showing people around the castle. Always very friendly, but also no-nonsense and sharp-witted. One question she did not like was asking her age. She did not think it was anyone's business. My favorite story she told is when a gang of boys drove up to her castle at night, and tried to break in. She said she got out her shotgun and began to shoot the windows out on their car. That led the boys to high-tail it out of there. I don't think anyone or anything intimidated her. She was so proud of her castle. What she would want more than anything is to have her castle preserved and remain open to the public. She had many Hollywood stars stop by, but always said, "the're just like you and me. They think they are special, but the're not." Then she would go on and say how she couldn't stand "so-and'so"-a very famous Hollywood actor--"he is so arrogant!" What an amazing woman.
Mary Dolenz
January 4, 2011
My mother was related to Mary Lou. We just learned of her passing. Almost 35 years ago my high school sweetheart and I married at Mystery Castle with Mary Lou's generosity (We had nary a dime between us.) She and the Castle's chapel brought us good luck. Paul and Cada Mullon, Stillwater, Ok.
December 15, 2010
I remember the first time I visited the Castle and Mary Lou was in the living room sitting on the couch. She told me she liked my curly hair. Somehow she touched me that day and I read everything I could about her life and the very interesting story of her castle. I must have gone back there 20 times over the next few years. She actually gave me a card saying I was to have a "lifetime admission" as she didn't think I needed to pay anymore to visit. I still have that and will cherish it always. She and I talked frequently about interesting visitors she had over the years. My favorite was Tiger Woods. She said he asked her to play golf with him and she told him thank you but that she really didn't see the point of the game of golf. She was as honest as they come about her opinions and why not? I absolutely adored her and have a picture of her that I bought in the gift shop at my home in Arizona. For whatever reason I felt a kinship with this amazing woman and I will miss her very much. Her spirit will live on.
Susan Summerlin
December 13, 2010
Estelle Forsberg
December 11, 2010
I met Mary Lou this past February while visiting the Castle with my husband and his sister and husband.
We were not sure if we would get to meet her as she was refusing to come out of her apartment. Following the afternoon tour, the tourist had left and I continued to browse through the gift shop. Suddenly my husband came and got me and said that Mary Lou had come out. I greeted her and told her how delighted I was to be able to meet her. She liked my hair and said, “You are a blond just like me.” When she saw my husband she said, “He’s blond, too, but that doesn’t count—he’s a man.” She had us in stitches with her comments. (She told me she was 85; doesn’t like men.) What a precious lady she was. Meeting her was truly the icing on the cake to a wonderful tour of the Mystery Castle. We are looking forward to hopefully getting a copy of her 1952 My Mystery Castle when it becomes available again.
Estelle Forsberg
December 8, 2010
Estelle Forsberg
December 8, 2010
Estelle Forsberg
December 8, 2010
Every guests who visited us
December 6, 2010
I met Mary Lou last year with my children at the Castle. We had a GREAT time & tour...she was so kind to the kids! So sorry to hear of her passing as I was looking forward to seeing her again in the Spring. I think it's wonderful that she kept her father's dream alive and lived in the house that he built for her! My sympathy goes out to her family.
December 6, 2010
I've known Mary Lou since I was a child. I am now 55. I knew her mother also. They were very close. My mom and Mary Lou were friends. I was the first guide at the castle along with one of my closet friends. We had many crazy and fun times. I was actually married at the castle. We had many goofy experiences,like the time our friend Barry was dressed as Dracula,for Halloween, and we went to her house to scare her, which we did! And then she wanted us to go scare her neighbor Ruthie. We scared the peejeebers out of Ruthie, so much so that she made us cool-aid, and forgot to put the sugar in!
Just recently, my friend that worked with me at the castle passed away, and Mary Lou graciously agreed that his ashes should be spread at the castle. I flew in and we had a ceramony, and spread them.

Mary Lou will be well missed by myself and my friends. Even though she was much older than us, she was" one of the gang", and we had many wonderful and exceptional times.

It gives me peace to know she is now with her mother and father.

Mary Lou, I love you. Come back to the castle,you always said you would. I'll find you there.
Leslie Ward-Robinson
December 6, 2010
A great lady! Very interesting and enjoyed sharing the story of her family. Does anyone know how old she was? I know she would never tell me. May she rest in peace
Margaret Gately
December 5, 2010
I met Mary Lou at the castle about 15 years ago and visited a few times after that. I was thrilled to find her book "My Mystery Castle" at a local sale a few years ago and sad to say I never got the book up to visit her and get her autograph. Phoenix has lost a valuable piece of history with her passing.
Patty Lewis
December 5, 2010
I visited Mary Lou 3 times in her life time at the Mystery Castle, and enjoyed evertime I saw her. Some close friends of mine, who have a winter home in Scottsdale, introduced me to her. They visited her several times each year since they had moved there. They would take family and friends who visited them to experience the beauty, charm, and history of the Mystery Castle. I wanted to visit everytime I went. I haven't been to Scottsdale in 3 years, and I'm sorry now that I've missed those precious opportunities to see Mary Lou again.

My favorite story she told once was about meeting Marilyn Monroe ( my favorite Movie Star) and Clark Gable when they were filming the Misfits. She spoke of how polite and intelligent MM was, and soft and child like in her manner. She also said Clark Gable was very protective of her as everyone seemed to be that were around her. But she would then reinterate how smart and intelligent MM was when Mary Lou felt no one else would acknowledge that fact.

Mary Lou will certainly be missed. I'm am very happy to know that her book will be in publication again soon. It's just sad that it has too come about because of her passing. It would have been endearing to have her signature in that precious one time publication.

Mary Lou, you will be greatly missed my dear. From an ardent admirer in Kansas City, KS.
December 5, 2010
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