Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roshis Fern McGurie and Ken Hogaku McGuire

Roshis Fern and Ken Hogaku McGuire--They died two days apart, June 22 and 24, 2012

Ken Hogaku McGuire-roshi died of an apparent heart attack two days after his wife Fern McGuire-roshi died in almost the same manner. They were childhood sweethearts in Kansas and had been married 55 years. They studied together with Matsuoka-roshi, beginning in the 1960s. Ken Roshi, as he was called, was the teacher of my teacher, Harvey Daiho Hilbert. Like a koan it is—the sudden death of two teachers, husband and wife, inseparable. Together they had built and administered the Daibutsuji Zen Temple, first in Las Cruces, then in the mountains above Cloudcroft, NM. This is where I first encountered them. On the Sundays of our sesshins we’d have our final services in their zendo. It was a beautiful and quiet place. A few years ago, they retired and returned to their home in Las Cruces. Ken was a fine carpenter, specializing in ZenFurnishings. Fern was a householder, a mother. Their practice was a tributary of the deep stream of our own practice. And now their human presence is gone. Emptiness, the water disappearing into the earth. Seeds and flowers and fruit and death. So it’s no surprise. We are here. Right now. We vow not to squander our lives.  

On Friday, 29 June, there will be a memorial service for both Ken and Fern on Friday at 10:00 AM at the Getz Funeral Home in Las Cruces, NM. Afterwards the Clear Mind Zen Temple will host another service to honor Fern Roshi and Ken Roshi. Two monks who had practiced with Matsuoka along with the McGuires will be visiting to celebrate their old friend. If anyone in El Paso wants to attend, please contact me at 915-241-3140.

Sit strong. The path is everyday life. Nothing special.

—Bobby Kankin Byrd

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