Fred Lanphear: An Amazing Journey
Fred passed away this past Thursday night after having lived with ALS (“Lou Gehrig disease”) for several years. Fred and Nancy Lanphear, founders and members of Songaia community, have always been friends to our community. Songaia has shared their history and stories with us over the years and we have often spoken of Songaia as a sister community to our Goodenough Community. Fred and Nancy came to Lab one year and have been out at Sahale a number of times. My last visit to Fred and Nancy earlier in the summer showed me how much Fred is loved. He was sitting on their porch at Songaia, his son was working in the garden area, children came by to visit and friends stopped in to check in with Fred. Fred talked about teaching a young teen how to prune – using words only, from his wheelchair. It was clear that he was still an active member of his community and staying involved in a number of ways. I was so happy to see how many people were around offering support and friendship – a wonderful demonstration of community at its best. In the announcement about Fred’s death Nancy said the following, “Fred has always been faithful to his decision, to accept what life had given him and to live fully within those limits.”
I will miss Fed very much – he was a remarkable man and a good friend. I served on two boards with Fred and came to respect his breadth of wisdom and his skills at bringing people to a place of common understanding. He also didn’t mince words when he felt that there was a deepening that needed to happen. Fred’s story is filled with adventures; those of us at the celebration for him that Songaia put on last year remember stories about Fred’s life.
Our friends at Songaia will let us know of memorial events happening and we will pass the information on to you.
In Memory of Fred
John L. Hoff
My first memories of Fred are at meetings of the Northwest Intentional Communities Association in the mid 1980s. Fred was a cofounder of the Association and served on its board for many years. Over the years Goodenough Community members Rebecca LiaBraaten and 2
Kirsten Rohde served as chairpersons on that board with Fred. We have visited back and forth as communities and Colette and I have shared “founder and leader” stories with Nancy and Fred for many years. In visiting Fred since his illness, I found that I came away from time with him with a sense of having been listened to, drawn out, and cared for in spite of my intention to encourage him. I will miss Fred. I already miss Fred. And I know there will be some times when I remember him and be blessed in doing so.
Kirsten Rohde, President of the American Association for the Furtherance of Community, wrote a formal letter on behalf of us all to Nancy, to Fred’s family, and to the Songaia community. We are working to support the Songaia community in arrangements for his memorial service tentatively scheduled for October 16. Kirsten has a statement elsewhere in this Village eView, and Joan Valles has selected some of the most pertinent information about Fred’s life in the paragraphs that follow.
Fred Lanphear died shortly before midnight Thursday, Sept. 9, at his home at Songaia Co-housing in Bothell where his family and a few friends had spent the evening close by singing and talking with him. Songaia (song of the Earth) expresses some of Fred’s passion, singing and care for the Earth and for those who live here. His community recognized Fred as an elder in 2006.
Fred was 73 years old and had lived with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for three years. He was born and raised in Rhode Island, where his family had lived for many generations, and he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island. He earned his doctorate in horticultural science from Penn State University, and it was while he was in graduate school that he married his life partner, Nancy. For the next nine years after Fred’s graduation, they raised their young family of three children in Lafayette, Indiana, where Fred rose in the ranks to become a full professor at Purdue University. At the age of 36, in Fred’s words, he experienced a “vocational-career crisis” and his life took a “radical shift” from academia to social activism. He and his family were invited to join the staff of the Order Ecumenical of the Institute of Cultural Affairs, a secular religious order with a mission of teaching the new theology of the 20th century and doing community development work. Lanphear’s involvement took their family to Kenya and India where they lived and worked for more than 10 years. Although the residential communities of the Order officially dissolved in 1988, it was through this connection and their interest in continuing communal living that Fred and Nancy came to Bothell and ultimately to cofounding Songaia. Fred lived in various forms of intentional community for more than 35 years. *This information is taken from Fred’s blog, elderfred.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/an-evolving-cosmology-a-swamp-yankees-journeys-to-the-center.)
Fred was a cofounder of NW Intentional Communities Association (NICA) in 1992 and served on its board of directors since its inception, twice as president. He served two three-year terms on the national Fellowship of Intentional Communities (FIC) Board. He was selected the first recipient of the FIC’s Geoph Kozeny Communitarian Award in 2009. From 1989 to 1999, Fred 3
was lead administrator for the Northwest Institute for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NIAOM) in Seattle, a position that reflected his interests in wholistic thinking, alternative medicine, and spirituality. In 2000 he created One Sky Medicine, a wholistic health clinic, which he led for four years. Fred also was associated with the Institute of Noetic Sciences as a group leader and Northwest board member from 1989 to 2008. Underlying all of his work was his commitment as a Christian, an ecumenisist, and a scholar of spiritual traditions.
This is just a sample of Fred’s life of service. More is to be found on Laird Schaub’s blog, (communityandconsensus.blogspot.com/2010/09/celebrating-fred-lanphears-life.html) where much of this information came from and from Fred’s own blog, (elderfred.wordpress.com) and other of his writings, which can be referenced online. They are an inspiration.