RIP Silas Hoadley:December 13, 2022. Dear friend and dharma uncle, Silas Hoadley, died on Monday, December 12th. Silas has been suffering from dementia but still we've had some phone chats this year thanks to Bill Porter. I Just talked to Silas ten days ago and it he was clearer than some months before. Bill said that was because he was in a care home and had more people to relate to.
From an email just received from Bill Porter: I'm so glad both of you (Steve Tipton and me) could have some time with Silas recently. Isaac and I have been visiting him almost daily for the past week. He stopped eating and drinking a week ago, and he also stopped talking. He finally died tonight. Amber (Silas's daughter) flew down and was with him shortly before he died. It was definitely time for him to go, and I'm glad he didn't linger any longer than he had to. May we all be so fortunate. Treasure the memories. Bill
Suzuki respected Silas's practice. When he was dying he told Jerry Fuller, "Don't worry, you will have Dick and Silas." Silas was giving lectures in the city. No other student was till Dick returned from Japan. Once Dick was abbot, there was no room for Silas in ZC. Their styles were too far apart - Baker's imperial and Silas's consensus approach. Silas was an importer. He told me if we don't raise the money to be Tassajara, he'd buy it. That didn't become necessary. People weren't aware that there were three major donors to buy Tassajara: Chester Carlson (Xerox inventor), Edward Johnson (Fidelity), and Silas. It seems to me he gave most of his wealth away.
photo 2014 by Tim Buckley
Calligraphy given to Silas by Sotan Tatsugami when Silas was shuso at Tassajara
Here's what one of his direct ancestors of the same name
is famous for - Silas
Thinking of Silas who was so important in the formative years of the SFZC.
We're still in touch but it's been some years since I visited with him in Port Townsend. Hi Silas.
posted this on Silas and his namesake on cuke blog 12-08-15
L to R - Silas Hoadley, Craig Boyan, Reb Anderson, abbot's study, SFZC City Center
For Silas (from Steve
In God we trust, let’s say, and ask
who else comes up along the way to join us
and become a friend for life, a companion
side by side on the road, face to face in the moment,
with good, sure hands, steady on the job,
agile at play. Swing that hammer, hit that ball!
Alive to joy, aware of loss, awake to care,
One to clear our mind, fill our heart, light our way.
The good man has no shape, some say,
and everyone is good in their own way--
a child of God, point of light, wave of wonder--
even if a little off, selfish or sleepy. Then
it’s time to go. Ready or not, we rise
to give our all, if we’re lucky or blessed,
with all the goodness, grace, and generosity
of spirit Silas shared with us in the flesh.
Bill Porter Obit on Silas for the Portownsend Leader (read DC corrections, comments below)
"Silas Hoadley died tonight in hospice in Port Townsend, Washington. He was 85. While he was attending college at Yale in the 1960s, he met a number of people who later became instrumental in helping fund the establishment of the San Francisco Zen Center, and he liked to describe himself as Suzuki Roshi's bagman. Silas was the Zen Center's first president, and also the second director of Tassajara. He later left the Zen Center and spent sixteen years on the Navajo Reservation. Eventually, he moved to Port Townsend to follow his friend Niels Holm, who was the first director of Tassajara. Both Niels and Silas supported themselves as carpenters. For many years, Silas organized and led our semi-annual Zen retreats. About four years ago, his health began to decline, and during the past year he became mostly bed ridden. For the past year, Isaac Gardiner and I have been taking Silas out for a weekly mocha. This photo was taken on such an occasion four months before he died. He is survived by two sisters, a daughter, and his wife Beverly, as well as by countless beings who have benefitted from his wisdom and compassion. For more about Silas, see cuke.com." Red Pine - - posted on Bill Porter's Facebook fan page.
DC corrections and comments: Silas came to the SFZC through his friend Chick Reader in 1964. Maybe he and Chick knew each other through Yale. Shunryu Suzuki arrived from Japan in 1959 and the Zen Center was established in 1962. The SFZC needed no outside help in getting established but needed lots of help in getting outside funds to acquire Tassajara Springs which it made a downpayment on at the end of 1966. The two largest donors were on the East Coast and Silas was the third largest. Silas became the fifth president of the SFZC in the fall of 1968 when Richard Baker went to Japan. He was never director of Tassajara, Zen Mt. Center. He didn't live on the Navaho reservation but for more than 16 years he'd go a few weeks of the year to work on building a home for a prominent Navaho who lived very close to the reservation. Neils Hom arrived at Tassajara in the SFZCs 2nd year there, 1968. He was director in the spring of 1972.
I wrote Silas's daughter Amber about the Navaho connection and she responded:
Silas spent 25 years at least building a home for his friend and client Ben Barney. He usually went once a year and spent about 3 weeks working on the house which was one of the few that he designed and built from the ground. He brought Jack Sword from Muir Beach to build the fireplace, which was the last project Jack worked on before he passed if I remember correctly. Ben’s house is in Lukachukai, a small town near Chinle and Shiprock. Ben is Navajo and used to be the superintendent of Public schools on his rez.and was responsible for bringing the teaching of Navajo (Dine) language into the public school system there.