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Steve Stücky (rip)

Subtle Eye Blog for Steve    Facebook page for Steve 

11-19-16 - At Michael Stusser's Osmosis in Freestone on October 6th - in the garden Steve created.


Click here for Shunryu Suzuki Photo Archive images and links to all pages on .

12-30-14 - Remembering Myogen Steve Stucky - That's a link to the SFZC memorial page for Steve and announcement of a memorial ceremony tonight and tomorrow for him. He was a dear friend and former chief abbot of the SF Zen Center who died on New Year's Eve last year. His illness and death came about quickly, disturbingly, a matter of a few months. He was especially well loved and appreciated. He was also a strong supporter of the work represented on this site and He called me right after becoming abbot in February of 2007 to offer his support and set up a meeting. After a half year of this work being regarded as an abbot's project, he came to agree with me that it's best for the cuke archives etc to be independent of any connection to the SFZC other than as a no strings contribution - as this work always has been. Everyone's happier that way. was in no small way an outcome of his persistent encouragement and support. Right up to his illness I sent him regular brief reports and Ccs of key interactions. His personal monthly financial contribution was also significant. Our friendly and social interactions were mainly in prior decades and I remember them fondly. He had that quality Shunryu Suzuki had of being strict with himself in an easy-going way - and tolerant of others. I miss him. - DC

3-23-14 - Video interview with Steve Stucky on Vimeo - thanks Elizabeth Sawyer

2-21-14 - Saying Farewell: A Record of the Funeral for Myogen Steve Stucky - with a link to video of the ceremony.2-13-14 - At Steve Stucky's funeral on February 9th, Edward Brown left the following message from Katrinka and me on the Green Gulch altar with other messages.

Farewell Steve. we will miss your friendship, support, humor, and
teaching in everything you did. Gone way too soon. Too soon but well
done. Gratitude.

comment on this at dchad misc

8-25-14 - Shunryu Suzuki lecture from the 1975 Wind Bell volume 14, issue 1.

In the new presentation of All Shunryu Suzuki lectures, lecture notes, and comments from the SFZC's Wind Bell publication 1961-2012 now combined with links to the complete Wind Bells with cover images added - also links to the page on where audio, verbatim transcripts, other edited version can be found. Today featuring # 61 of 111 selections (approximately). - dc

This is the Wind Bell with Steve Stucky on the cover. I miss Steve and many people miss Steve and the SFZC misses Steve and misses Steve. He was a steady, wise person and a strong supporter of the cuke archives and all this work and made a considerable monthly donation - was a subscriber.- DC

2-08-14 - Funeral for SFZC Central Abbot Steve Stucky set for  3 pm on Sunday, February 9 at Green Gulch Farm. Go to that website to see it live.

1-09-14 - Funeral for SFZC Central Abbot Steve Stucky set for  3 pm on Sunday, February 9 at Green Gulch Farm.

1-07-14 - Steve Stucky Cremation yesterday - from Elizabeth Sawyer

1-05-14 - San Francisco Chronicle obituary for Steve - thanks Steve Tipton

1-03-14 - Steve Stucky Death Poem - thanks Elizabeth Sawyer

1-02-14 - In Memoriam Steve Stucky - from the SFZC

12-31-13 - Farewell Steve Stucky who died at home this morning at 4:03. A life well lived. A man who will be missed. Love and condolences to Lane.

10-10-13 - It is with great sadness that we pass on this news from the SFZC website. SFZC Abbot Steve Stücky Diagnosed with terminal cancer - Letters from President Susan O’Connell and Steve

Update page (on  for SFZC Abbot Steve Stucky who is now in the hospital. All our prayers for Steve's well being and for Lane in this most difficult and challenging time. (on

Messages can be sent to Steve through that page and private messages should be sent to Steve's assistant: Mary Stares<centralabbotassist[at]> - dc

Steve Stucky talk given at Green Gulch Farm on Wednesday October 2. bio page for Steve

Dharma Eye Zen - Steve's group that, among other things, meets in San Rafael Monday eves

Steve's dharma talk page on SFZC site, now (10-18-13) with only a 2008 talk on Tassajara Fire

YouTube from Sky Creek Dharma Center - The Zen Teachings of Suzuki Roshi from Abbot Steve Stucky

Tassajara Fire cuke page - much on Steve here as he was a pivitol character in the 2008 fire at Tassajara that led to the book Fire Monks featured on this page.

Lane Olson is married to Steve.

The Artistry of Mayumi Oda: Images of the Floating World
by Lane Olson

Steve with Dan Welch at Dan's Mt. Seat Ceremony in Crestone - thanks MK

At a gay pride day event in SF

Steve Stucky Death Poem


This human body truly is the entire cosmos

Each breath of mine, is equally one of yours, my darling

This tender abiding in "my" life

Is the fierce glowing fire of inner earth

Linking with all pre-phenomena

Flashing to the distant horizon

From "right here now" to "just this"

Now the horizon itself

Drops away—






 - thanks Elizabeth Sawyer

Steve Stücky, abbot at S.F. Zen Center, dies

By Stephanie Lee

San Francisco Chronicle - January 2, 2014

Steve Stücky, an abbot at the San Francisco Zen Center who once risked his life to help defend a temple from a wildfire, died New Year's Eve at his Rohnert Park home after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67.

As the Zen Center's central abbot since 2010, Mr. Stücky oversaw a large community of monks and other Zen students at the organization's locations in San Francisco, Marin and the Ventana Wilderness, east of Big Sur. Hours after his death, each temple rang the temple bell 108 times, a number that in Buddhism symbolizes the banishing of worldly desires and worries.

Diagnosed in September with stage four pancreatic cancer, Mr. Stücky endured a lot of pain and stepped down from his role as central abbot in December. Yet the wisdom that endeared him to many remained intact in his final days. In one of his last conversations with Susan O'Connell, the president of the Zen Center, he reminded her of the importance of sticking to decisions that were necessary yet painful.

"He was actually someone who was extremely kind, but also very strong and wise and willing to have difficult conversations," O'Connell said.

Born in Chicago, Stücky grew up in Kansas, according to biographical information provided by the Zen Center. His interest in Buddhism took root in 1971, when a friend gave him a book about Zen practices. The following year, he hitchhiked to San Francisco and started sleeping in Golden Gate Park in order to go to meditation at the Zen Center.

There he stayed and studied for eight years. By the 1980s, he had a family, and he supported them for two decades as a landscape designer.

He temporarily left the Zen Center but continued to be active in the Buddhist community, co-leading a meditation group at San Quentin State Prison and serving as board president of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association in North America. He returned to the Zen Center as a co-abbot in 2007.

His dedication was perhaps most visibly challenged on July 9, 2008, when a giant wildfire threatened to overtake the Zen Center's monastery at the former resort of Tassajara Hot Springs near Big Sur. All the residents left at the urging of firefighters, but Mr. Stücky and four other monks stayed and ended up keeping the flames at bay.

Colleen Morton Busch interviewed Mr. Stücky for her book about the event, "Fire Monks." "It was really Steve that was the turning point" she recalled. "But he didn't speak about that moment in any kind of dramatic or self-important way. He was completely humble about it and just felt like he was making a necessary decision in that moment."

Mr. Stücky is survived by his wife, Lane Olson; his son, James Asher; daughters Hannah Dominguez and Robin Williams; and four grandchildren. A funeral service will be held soon at the Zen Center's Green Gulch Farm. The family is accepting donations made to the Zen Center's Widening the Circle Capital Campaign (


 Stephanie M. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: slee@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @stephaniemle

Steve Stucky Cremation from Elizabeth Sawyer


Dear Family, Friends, and Sangha Members,


Just returned from the cremation of beloved friend and my heart teacher Myogen Steve Stucky which was held at Pleasant Hills Mortuary in Sebastopol at 10 am.  It was three years ago January that we attended to the cremation of Darlene Cohen (at the same place).  Many of the same people were present.


The ceremony was satisfying and powerful as we chanted and offered incense/flowers/herbs, and lavender buds that Wendy Johnson brought from Steve's own gardens to offer to the body in the plain pine box that Steve requested.  Some of us stayed in the rectory while family, disciples, and close friends accompanied the body in a procession chanting "May you be happy, may you find peace" over and over again to Steve on the way to the crematorium. 


Steve's wife Lane Olson and James, Hannah, and Robin (Steve's children) put their hands on one another's hands and pushed the button on the oven to start the process of burning the body "back stage".  Then we recessed back to the rectory and ended the ceremony and said our good byes as we were gently shooed out to make room for the next funeral!


Steve's teacher, Sojun Mel Weitsman led the ceremony in the rectory and Linda Ruth Cutts The next Central Abbess led the procession and ceremony at the crematorium.  In the beginning of the ceremony Steve's Brother spoke as did Lane's sister, and two of Steve's disciples Ren Shin Bunch and me (Elizabeth).  A note from Victoria Austin was read. 

Then everyone offered chip incense of the flowers and herbage to the body in the casket as we chanted the Ennmei Juku Kannon Gyo over and over again.


Ken was the doan (chant leader with bell and small wooden drum on a stick).  Mary Stares (Steve's assistant) and Chris Fortin bookended the procession with bells on a stick we call inkins.  Bruce Fortin was the jisha (attendant) for Mel during the offerings at the altar.


There will be a public ceremony at Green Gulch Farm at a later date TBA.


Elizabeth Sawyer

this page created 10-18-13

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