Zenkei Blanche Hartman Memorial Fund

Blanche's hands pinning a rakusu. Photo: Renshin Bunce As many of you know, our beloved teacher, Zenkei Blanche Hartman, died on May 13 in San Francisco. She was 90 years old and five days. Blanche was a central and stabilizing figure at San Francisco Zen Center for over 40 years. She helped guide the organization through turbulent times, and her patient dedication to Zen practice inspired innumerable students who came to our practice centers. 

Blanche and her husband Lou practiced Zen first at Berkeley Zendo with Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi, then at San Francisco Zen Center with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Dainin Katagiri Roshi, and Zentatsu Richard Baker Roshi. In 1972, they moved from Berkeley to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, beginning a lifelong commitment to Zen practice, which led them to Green Gulch Farm and San Francisco Zen Center's City Center. Blanche was ordained by Zentatsu Roshi in 1977, receiving the name Shunbo Zenkei, "Spring Full Moon, Inconceivable Joy." She received dharma transmission from Sojun Roshi in 1988, and in 1996, she became the first woman to serve as Abbess of San Francisco Zen Center. 

Blanche also studied Nyoho-e, the practice of sewing Zen ceremonial robes, with Kasai Joshin Sensei, in the lineage of Sawaki Kodo Roshi. She taught this unique form of Zen practice to hundreds of students at Zen Center, and played an important role in establishing the practice in North America. 

Blanche with her favorite portrait of Suzuki Roshi. Photo: Alison BankTo celebrate and honor Blanche, we have established a memorial fund in her name. The fund will be used to support the renovation of a new sewing room at City Center. Blanche could be found regularly in the City Center Sewing Room helping students to sew their rakusu or okesa, as well as passing on the practice to other sewing teachers who followed in her footsteps. 

The new sewing room will be named in her memory: Inconceivable Joy Sewing Room: In Memory of Zenkei Blanche Hartman.

If you would like to support this fund in memory of Blanche, you may donate online. Or you may send your check made out to San Francisco Zen Center by mail to:

Zenkei Blanche Hartman Memorial Fund
Attn: Nancy Petrin, Director of Development
300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA 94102


For more information, please contact Nancy Petrin via email: nancy.petrin@sfzc.org