|Roshis Fern and Ken Hogaku McGuire--They died two days apart, June 22 and 24, 2012|
Thursday, June 28, 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
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Yesterday, Friday June 22 2012, I received this message from Ken Hogaku McGuire Roshi announcing the death of his beloved wife of 55 years Fern McGuire Roshi. She died on her birthday.--Bobby Kankin
A DEEP GASSHO TO ALL
IT IS WITH MUCH SORROW THAT I REPORT TO ALL THAT REV. FERN ROSHI HAS PASSED ON.
SHE WAS FOUND THIS MORNING OUT IN THE YARD LAYING BEHIND THE TRUCK. IT IS CONJECTURED THAT SHE HAD A MASSIVE HEART ATTACK AND WENT QUICKLY AND WITH LITTLE PAIN.
THERE WILL BE A "FRIENDS AND FAMILY" GATHERING ON FRIDAY MORNING STARTING AT 10:00 AM AT THE GETZ FUNERAL HOME. IN KEEPING WITH THE TRADITION FOR MONKS, THERE WILL BE NO FUNERAL NOR ANY CEREMONIAL CONDUCTED OTHER THAN THE SLOW CHANTING OF THE HEART SUTRA BY MYSELF, HER HUSBAND OF 55 YEARS.
PLEASE-----PASS THIS MESSAGE ALONG TO ANYONE WHO MAY HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF MEETING THIS EXCEPTIONAL PERSON.
My strongest memories of Fern Roshi was as Ino--the way she chanted the Heart Sutra, especially its introduction, and struck the big bell with such attention and passion. Once, at the Dharma Mountain Zendo in the mountains above Cloudcroft, she asked me to serve as Ino. She wanted to just sit for a change. But she was worried about the big bell. She took care to explain how it should be struck. I was honored. Fern was a quiet but stern lady, truly a farm-raised American citizen who understood the unity of all things. Practicing with her was always a special occasion. I was astonished when I heard from a friend that she suffered back and leg pain. I would never have guessed it. She was a role model for me and others. She knew what it was to practice the Dharma, and her very presence was a Teisho of utmost wisdom.
Below is photograph taken on the day of my Shukke Tokudo Ceremony. Fern and Ken Roshis made the drive down from Las Cruces to be with me and with our Sangha.