For those who knew Wences Guerrero, two things were clear: No client was a stranger and gardening was a form of art.
In lieu of a paintbrush, flowers and stone were Guerrero’s preferred media. His installations first came to the Wood River Valley about two decades ago, boasting intense juxtapositions of color and texture—pink cosmos paired with blue forget-me-nots, golden marigolds against natural-stone walkways.
It was always Guerrero’s dream to own a landscaping company, his family said. That dream was fulfilled in 2003 when he opened G&G Landscaping in Bellevue.
“He loved flowers. It wasn’t even work for him—it was his hobby and passion that just so happened to be his job,” granddaughter Joana Guerrero said.
One of Joana’s favorite memories was picking out flowers with Wences at the Sun Valley Garden Center.
“Grandpa really knew his flowers—how to dress the bed, whether they needed direct sunlight or shade,” she said. “It was amazing how he memorized which flowers went best together. Sometimes I’d pick out something, and he’d joke that I’d kill them.”
Joana and Guerrero’s son, José, said Wences began to build botanical expertise in the 1990s while tending to gardens in the gated communities of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Calif.
“Through trial and error, he figured it out. He always kept those flowers happy, and everything had to be perfect,” Joana said.
Guerrero’s perfectionism also applied to his garden in Ensenada, Baja California, where he and his wife, Esperanza, owned a second home and planned to retire this year. Starting three years ago, the pair spent every October through June in the laid-back coastal city.
Ensenada—famous for its fish tacos and wineries—was paradise for the couple, Joana said. They built a home in the city’s quiet, mellow district of Maneadero, around two hours south of San Diego. The area was safe, but Wences installed a security system just in case.
On Dec. 3, a group of armed men broke in and fatally shot Guerrero in his home. The alarm malfunctioned, Joana said, but Guerrero was still able to reactivate it after being shot.
“The phone call [of his death] was so surreal,” she said. “Grandpa had always reassured us he was safe, that he’d found his happy place. I don’t know why his home was chosen. His retirement was just so well-deserved.”
José Guerrero told the Express that his parents were looking forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary on Valentine’s Day.
“Dad was in a great mood, very grateful for his clients and family,” he said.
Even though Ensenada was the final destination for Wences, retirement was not yet in the man’s vocabulary.
“The soil was very dry and rocky [in Ensenada] but he still figured out how to cultivate a garden, and keep his grass from dying in the summer,” Joana said. “He often messaged pictures of his green grass. He was so proud of it.”
Guerrero also helped supervise G&G Landscaping from afar, checking in regularly to make sure work was up to snuff. When he returned to the Wood River Valley with Esperanza, he’d drive around to check on clients’ gardens.
“He was supposed to be retired, but still showed up to the office every morning,” Joana said. “We’d tell him to go home and relax, but he was stubborn.”
Guerrero was also known to surprise his children and grandchildren in the valley with impromptu visits. Joana recalled offhandedly mentioning that her door needed fixing; soon after, Wences showed up.
“I came home from work one day and he was out fixing the door. He told me, ‘I had nothing to do, I’m happy to help,’” she said.
José said his father did not need a car to get around town or pay family visits, and preferred walking 5 or 6 miles a day from Bellevue to Hailey with his beloved rottweiler, Charlie, whom he took everywhere.
“I always loved running into Grandpa on the sidewalk, coming home from work,” Joana said.
José said anyone Guerrero encountered on the streets of Hailey and Bellevue quickly became a friend.
“Dad would talk to anybody and everybody—everyone loved him, wanted to give him a hug,” he said. “His friendliness was one of the reasons his earliest clients still commission work to this day. He treated his customers like family no matter what.”
Born and raised in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Guerrero later moved to Ameca, where he met and married Esperanza. The couple then moved to Mexico City; in 1985, they relocated their family to Los Angeles, where Wences continued work in dry cleaning and took up landscaping.
The family moved to Bellevue in the late 1990s after Wences was hired to take care of the Silver Springs Ranch, José said.
“Dad was the definition of a go-getter,” he said. “He will be so missed.”
Wences Guerrero leaves behind his wife of 49 years, Esperanza Guerrero; one daughter, Gabby Lager, and two sons, José and Hector Guerrero; grandchildren, Joana and Armando Guerrero and Mila and Dillon Lager; and great-grandchildren, Henry Murdock and Zavier Hernandez.