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People Index - also see Interviews, Brief Memories, Suzuki Stories, LinksComments, and here and there

Nancy Wilson Ross

New York Times 1986 obituary for Nancy Wilson Ross

Nancy Wilson Ross was a good friend of the SFZC, came with Margo Wilkie (four mentions of Ross) to visit in the city in the sixties, met with Suzuki and a few other elegant seemed to be high society women into the arts, meditation. She and Margot had gone to India together as part of a serious study of Eastern religions. Here's something I wrote in the last century about Margot, that she was in a "women's discussion group there in 1958 which included the writers Nancy Wilson Ross and Ann Morrow Lindberg. Suzuki-roshi met with them a few of the few times he went to the East Coast. Elsie Mitchel, founder of the Cambridge Buddhist Association was close with Nancy. I remember hearing once from Richard Baker I think that Alan Watts had first connected us to Nancy. Baker sent students to live with her and help her out. Some thrived there like John Bailes. I recall John telling me how through Nancy he'd been invited by someone from the Mellon family to spend some time in a Caribbean resort and was flown there in a private jett with a Matisse? hung on the cabin wall. I recall that Robert Lyttle hated being there.

From an interview with Deborah Madison: I loved Nancy Wilson Ross - she was into loving kindness. She was hard to live with and we didn't always get along and after Dan came we really didn't get along. A lot of people didn't get along with her but I loved it. I was so happy to be away from Zen Center. I got to go to lunches and have Manhattans in the afternoon. Dan didn't want to drink at cocktail hour and I said you have to so he got into it. When John Bailes first arrived he was depressed and she'd say at breakfast I see you're wearing your lead suit but he got closer to her than anyone.

I remember John Bailes telling me he was going through security with Nancy at an airport and she got a little haughty about it and said, "Well, I'm not very likely to be carrying a bomb on the plane," or something like that.  They pulled elderly sophisticate Nancy into a room for interrogation and she missed her flight. 


From a 1967 Tassajara fundraising brochure




Nancy was considered an expert on Eastern religion.

Nancy Wilson Ross (November 22, 1901 – January 18, 1986) was an American novelist. A native of Olympia, Washington who graduated from the University of Oregon in 1924, she became an expert in Eastern religions and wrote fifteen novels.[1] Her 1957 novel The Return of Lady Brace was nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction. - from her Wikipedia page with a list of her books. She sure didn't act like she was from the West Coast.







This is interesting - Nancy was into John Cage

Nancy Wilson Ross' contributions to the New Yorker



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