Grahame Petchey


memorial card for Green Gulch ceremony3-02-18 - From SFZC Sangha News


Grahame Petchey Died on February 21, 2018


On card to the left note the date of the public memorial at Green Gulch - April 21, 2018.

Memorial service at City Center, 300 Page Street, San Francisco:
 Tuesday, March 6, at 6:10 pm
In the zendo (enter at side door on Laguna Street)

All of us at San Francisco Zen Center join in sadness at the passing of Zen Center's first president [actually Bob Hense was first], Grahame Petchey. Grahame arrived at Sokoji temple in 1961, was the first person who our founder Suzuki Roshi ordained as a priest in America, and was one of the first Westerners to practice in a Japanese monastery, Eiheiji.

Parts of Grahame's life and news about his passing and cremation ceremony are posted on

DC note: Bob Hense was ZC's first president, elected in 1961. 
He started the incorporation of ZC but had a breakdown and left. Grahame Petchey was then elected president and got ZC incorporated (not yet SFZC). Richard Baker had written that Grahame was the first president in something he wrote about him this week and I hadn't thought about it but then he sent me a note asking if that was true and it rung a bell with me and I looked into it and was reminded about Bob Hense.

Grahame Petchey's Way-seeking Mind Story - by DC

Hideko Petchey's report on Grahame's last days

Richard Baker's poem read to Grahame shortly before he died. You Were my Inspiration written after Grahame died and read at a sesshin he was leading, and what he read at Grahame's funeral.

Richard Baker on Grahame's funeral

Reb led the funeral, but I participated, and Paul Rosenblum participated.  Sally attended.  There was only the minimal Green Gulch participation.  Mostly they don’t know that Grahame was one of the founders of the Suzuki Roshi Sangha.

Richard Baker page

Interviews with Grahame Petchey

Grahame Petchey in the SFZC Wind Bells

See The Twelve Days of England for more on Grahame

Interview with Pauline Petchey

Correspondence from Suzuki to Grahame

Calligraphy - Be Careful with Fire - given Grahame by Suzuki

Kobun Chino letter to Grahame

A brief interview with Grahame Petchey about the initial incorporation of ZC

2-28-18 - Report on Grahme's Cremation on February 28th

Reb Anderson officiated. Also there from Green Gulch were Linda Ruth Cutts, Reb’s assistant Sonja Gardenswartz, his Jisha Valerian and Kōgen Dito-Keith. Also attending were Grahame's daughters Julia Petchey and Suzanne Petchey, and former wives Pauline Petchey and Hideko Oga who brought their disabled son Mark. Julia and Suzanne made statements. Julia brought Grahame’s okesa which was draped over the simple coffin box. There was a photograph set up, incense offerings, we chanted the Daihishin Dharani and the 10 names of Buddha. Reb made several different statements including the acknowledgment of the great pain Grahame had been in and his facing it. Then at the end Reb removed the okesa and we waited while the box was rolled into the retort (which is what the cremation chamber is called). The box had a spray of Mimosa in bloom on it. - thanks Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts

2-26-18 -There will be a ceremony for Grahame tomorrow (Tuesday) at 1:00pm  2-27-18 at Fernwood Cemetary in Mill Valley.


301 Tennessee Valley Road

Mill Valley, CA 94941


Photo at Rinsoin, Yaizu, 1964 - L to R: Shunryu & Hoitsu Suzuki , unknown, Grahame & Pauline Petchey, Phillip Wilson, Claude Dalenberg.

2-21-18 - Grahame Petchey died at 8:40am on February 21, his daughter Julia holding his hand. Grahame was one of Shunryu Suzuki's closest disciples. He came to Sokoji in the spring of 1961, was the first person who Suzuki personally ordained as a priest in America, one of the first Westerners to practice in a Japanese monastery, Eiheiji. His death comes after years in a convalescent home where Julia his constant companion. Richard Baker, Reb Anderson, and  I , among others, were sending messages to Grahame toward the end. 

Grahame Petchey wheelchair waving

See other recent updates on Grahame below - on Oct. 29 we learn he's in hospice care.

Click to enlarge photo. SR0173 in the Shunryu Suzuki photo archive. That's Grahame Petchey and I bet it's at Eiheiji in 1963 or 64. - dc

8-02-14 - Grahame Petchey Japan diary 1963 or part of it - in Group I  of 2013 Scans from Cuke Archives

Mark Petchey - Grahame and Hideko's Oga's son

Nona Ransom main page

Grahame H. Petchey sent the following excerpt from a letter he wrote.

A Visit with Grahame Petchey and a Suzuki Roshi calligraphy.

Grahame is in these SFZC Board notes - 1962 March 3, 1963 May 4 and July 6 and Sept. 7, 1965 June 5

He's of course in other early meeting notes.

Photos from SFZC Photo Archive

SR0044 At Rinsoin L to R: Shunryu Suzuki, Hoitsu Suzuki, ?, Grahame and Pauline Petchey, Phillip Wilson, Claude Dalenberg - by Fumiyo Yanagita

SR0054 Tatsugami Sotan Ryosen + Grahame Petchey + Phillip Wilson at Eihei-ji

SR0162 Sokoji event Bill Kwong, Grahame Petchey, Phillip Wilson in back

SR0165 Soko-ji group photo: by Joan B. Mayer. Della Goertz far L, unknown visiting priest with Dainin Katagiri to L, Shunryu Suzuki to R, Grahame Petchey, Connie Lueck? far R. 2nd row R to L - Trudy and Mike Dixon, Richard Baker, Phillip Wilson, Silas Hoadley. Jean Ross in back. 

SR0171 At inter-denominational outdoor Buddhist ceremony in Golden Gate Park; Grahame Petchey. At Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park Shunryu Suzuki with other Bay Area Buddhist leaders. Hsuan Hua to SR's R, Iru Price next to end on R? Grahame Petchey behind SR and Neville Warwick (Dr. Ajari) to the L of GP. By Henry Woon? (in series with SR0170)

SR0173 At inter-denominational outdoor Buddhist ceremony At Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Grahame Petchey - by Henry Woon Grahame in the US in 1965? - That's the date for these photos but maybe 1964 is more possible.

SR0209 Shunryu Suzuki with Kyosaku Sokoji L to R: Jean Ross, Betty Warren, Connie Lueck, Della Goertz, Bill Kwong, Grahame Petchey?, Paul Alexander, + Bob Hense in zazen at Soko-ji. Posed for photo because this is the men's side for actual zazen period.

Pauline - SRC0033 SR and Mitsu being met from or sent off to Japan Shunryu and Mitsu Suzuki at the San Francisco Airport on their way to Japan, April 10, 1963. Others (L to R) Virginia and Richard Baker (holding Sally), Betty Warren, Connie Lueck, Mike and Trudy Dixon, Della Goertz, Giles Guay, Pauline Petchey (holding David)

See Photos from Crooked Cucumber - three with Grahame also in list above.

Four photos from Betty Warren

R to L - Shunryu Suzuki, Kazemitzu Kato, Mitsu Suzuki, Philip Whalen, Grahame Petchey. From lower left with backs to us - Betty Warren, Richard Baker, Pauline Petchey
Developed May, 1962 

Betty Warren on lower left, Pauline Petchey lower right, Richard Baker above her, Connie Lueck against wall. Developed May, 1962

Saturday morning breakfast after zazen and service in Sokoji kitchen. L to R Grahame Petchey, two unknowns hidden behind Grahame, Shunryu Suzuki, Otohiro Suzuki, Betty Warren, Della Goertz.

In front of Sokoji L to R - Pauline Petchey, Grahame Petchey, Ernie (see below), Jean Ross, unknown, Richard Baker, Virginia Baker

Developed March, 1962



10-29-16 - Grahame is in hospice care in Oakland.

10-18-16 - Grahame is back in the hospital.

10-09-16 - Grahame Petchey out of hospitol

Out of the Kaiser and back at the convalescent home. He actually seems to be doing better now that he's not so alone so much which he was to a greater extent upstairs in his room at home. I've been pretty impressed with the care in convalescent and nursing homes I've been around in the last couple of decades. Also, he's nearer to his daughter Julia. - dc

10-04-16 - Out of the Kaiser and back at the convalescent home. He actually seems to be doing better now that he's not so alone so much which he was to a greater extent upstairs in his room at home. I've been pretty impressed with the care in convalescent and nursing homes I've been around in the last couple of decades. Also, he's nearer to his daughter Julia. - dc

10-04-16 - Grahame's at San Leandro Kaiser Hospital. He might be in critical condition. He has several embolisms. He hasn't been well for years. More on Grahame's condition soon. - DC

Since wrote the above have been in touch with his daughter Julia at the hospital and through her with Grahame. He's being fairly communicative. Wants to write a book about communication, language in hospitals. We're planning on doing a Skype to Skype tomorrow morning - his morning, my night late. She just set it up for him on an iPad mini.

10-03 -16 - Grahame Petchey, one of Shunryu Suzuki's most prominent early disciples, has moved out of his and Hideko Oga's, his ex-wife, home in Sebastopol, California, and is now at a convalescent home in Fremont, Apple Valley Rehab Hospital. He's been there since April.

Photos of Grahame from his ex, Hideko from July.


Looks better when he gets out of bed as above.

Below are photos taken by Hideko when she brought their son Mark to visit on September 24th. See Mark Petchey cuke page.




Hideko Petchey's report on Grahame's last days

Grahame was admitted to ICU – Kaiser Oakland last week – Thursday or Friday due to sepsis infection and recovered well by Sunday.

The ICU doctor was very happy to see his unbelievable strength.  Mark and I took a visit on Sunday seeing his transfer from ICU to an ordinary inpatient room.  Meanwhile, he could not get a dose for pain killer because of his condition on blood pressure so that he was really putting up pain throughout the few days.  I guess that weakened him further even though the antibiotics rescued him from one problem.  I heard his ICU doctor(s) telling repeatedly they were only focusing to get over from this infection and not including other issues.  So, I sensed there were some more problems besides behind over those years of his bed ridden life.

As I heard from Suzanne, his system was giving up sustaining after Tuesday night and his condition did not improve.  He passed away at 8:40am this morning.  His daughters were totally exhausted over days sleepless care.

I could not get hold of getting any plan for gathering at this moment.

Just a week before, his former caregiver had heart attack at a local hospital because of having been admitted for pneumonia so that he is now returned.

Grahame heard the news through his daughter and called me.  He was very alert and for the first time, he thanked me for many years of support.  It was really unexpected and surprised for me. 

Grahame and Richard Baker at Muir Beach long ago

Richard Baker and Grahame Petchey at Muir Beach 1961 or 62. - thanks Hideko


flowers altar for Grahame at Hideko's

Hideko Oga's (Grahme's 2nd wife) kitchen alter March 11, 2018


memorial card

DC to Grahame - read by daughter Julia at Grahame's memorial

Farewell dear Grahame, Zen pioneer, inspiration to your fellow students. I'm most happy to have spent so much time with you over the years. Thank you dear friend for your stream of memories, acute observations, indefatigable spirit in the midst of so much difficulty and suffering. Good student. Good teacher. Good father. Good man. We have not lost our timeless union but I'll still miss you.