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Fred Lanphear

December 22, 1935 – September 9, 2010



Fred wrote a book about the first twenty years of Songaia.  If you are interested in purchasing it, click on the title: 

Songaia, an Unfolding Dream: The Story of a Community’s Journey into Being (2013).



An Amazing Summer!


It has been an amazing summer!  In my wheelchair, I have been able to go outside almost every day.  I have watched our landscape attain its intended beauty through the hard work of our adult children, grandchildren and neighbors.  Trips to the community gardens have provided sheer delight.  Sitting under the new gazebo I have watched the garden unfold, realizing an earlier vision.  Although I can no longer dig, plant, weed or harvest, the ongoing dialogue with my fellow Biogaians (Songaia gardeners)  keeps me in the loop of the landscape and garden plans and activities.


It has been an amazing summer!  Visits from colleagues, family and friends continue to provide stimulation and enrichment to my daily life.  Total dependency on others for basic needs has increased.  Most recently, community or family members “serve” me my meals as I can no longer use my arms and hands.  (No way did this kind gesture stop him from enjoying food). Body work, hugs and other forms of touch are ever more significant,  forming deeper relationships with those I encounter.


It has been an amazing summer!  I look forward to each new day with its greater challenges of total dependency along with the new insights that come.  I am hungry to learn something new.  Due to my immobility, I find myself watching many nature documentaries with their captivating insight into the intricacies of the web of life.  I realize that I am an integral part of this very web.       TRULY, we live in a sacred universe.

          ~~  Fred wrote this three days before he died, September 6, 2010



My love, I miss you!
More times than I can count, I have called out your name
or come to share secrets, And the tears come.
I look at your photo, and the tears come.
I read notes of love from others, and the tears come
Our years together are like a string of pearls, beautiful and strong

My love, I miss you but would not call you back.
You lived your life fully and well.
You took leave of us in a peaceful way.
Now you are gone, and the tears come.


Nancy Lanphear

Surrounded by his loving family, Fred passed away last night in peace. Like some of you, I was able to share with Fred last night. Our last words together were “carry on.” At that same time, some of us from Songaia Cohousing Community were able to sing with and for him. We sang Simple Gifts, Harambe, Song of the Soul, and Amazing Grace.


On Wednesday, Fred shared with me personally that a circle with singing was exactly what he wanted of us. His hope was all of Songaia could participate in a final circle while he still had voice. Such an event was not really something that he needed, it was more about serving and care for those around him. Fred felt that a deep sense of closure grow from the very many individual conversations and connections he’s had over the last few years since the ALS diagnosis. When I spoke with him he shared his hope that we also would feel this as we began to grieve. Fred was extraordinarily grateful about the support he received from so many, including the celebration in January of 2009. There have been a stream of visitors from near and afar.


Fred’s left so many gifts to us. One gift is a book about Songaia Cohousing Community, which he has been writing for a couple of years. This book will be completed and published in the coming months as those who shared in the Songaia adventure write its final chapter.


Here are some of the words which Nancy Lanphear shared about her beloved husband shortly after he passed: “Fred spent the evening visiting with community and family members. Some children and adults came and sang with him, others came for a brief visit. Fred spoke to all as they stopped by. Fred spent the rest of the evening talking with our children and grandchildren, sharing stories or observations of their lives. He took his regular sleeping meds. about 10:40. Then about 11:10 our children took Fred to bed. He did his regular leg exercises, counting as usual to be sure that his care-givers were doing the correct number, then we gave him some pills to help his breathing. At 11:25, Fred took his last breath and let go of his physical body, it was a very peaceful death. Fred had finished his work!


I will miss him terribly. It has been a long, difficult journey over the last three  years; but Fred has always been faithful to his decision, to accept what life had given him and to live fully within those limits. I am so grateful for his continuing care and love. In loving rememberance

          ~~   Craig Raglan, Songaia Cohousing Community member since 1992


Fred Lanphear, a genius in intentional community, established a communal housing outside of Seattle ( after serving in various capacities around the world with “the Order.” He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known Lou Gehrig’s disease), and this October, was to raise some research funds in a walkathon while in his wheelchair. He didn’t make it. This month, when he knew terminus was in sight, he wrote his last blog, gathered members of kin and kindred, did his exercise in bed one last time, still counting to make sure the nurses did not skip a beat, and then went to sleep, and literally “gave up the ghost,” if I may be allowed that old metaphor. Response among the living to the completion of such a life can fall into grief, but momentarily; it is mostly a silent but nevertheless profound celebration of being, unique and
unrepeatable, none of its like was ever nor will ever be again.

~~. Excerpt written by Jaime Vergara and printed in the Saipan Tribune:



The story of Fred’s journey and death is an inspiration to us all. As Kaze said, that’s the way to die. Rod and I have been telling each other Fred and Nancy stories all week. Rod first met Fred when he was assigned with Lela Jahn to teach a Family course in Indiana. I couldn’t remember when I first met them.  I just know our paths have crossed in so many meaningful places and ways.


When we moved to Kansas City, the Lanphears were priors in the Student House here. Before that, we were with them in Nairobi…on a Panchayat Trek. The last thing I did before Nancy got me into the Nairobi Hospital was walk through Kawangare with Fred (that is not what put me in the hospital…water in Ijede did).


Then after the IERD in Delhi, Rod and I did a trip down through India.  We managed to get a non-English speaking taxi driver to drive us from Bombay to Chikali. Wonderful time getting to know people and see the fabulous work the Lanphears were doing. Then all four of us spent some time in Bombay for a much needed moment of R&R.


Our last, fabulous day with these two wonderful people was halfway between Seattle and Hood River. Fred and Nancy met us (and our son,Tim) for a joyous day of lunch, laughing, pictures, and fun. We’ll never forget that time with such beloved colleagues.


We are grateful that our lives were blessed with the lives of Fred and Nancy. Fred will be sorely missed by all who have cared for him over this ALS journey. We will be with you in spirit as you walk the ALS walk in October. And will always have special memories of the spirit giants in this story. Grace and Peace,

~~   Priscilla Wilson

Dear family of Nancy and Fred, We remember with you this day Fred’s thoughts, words and deeds, now embodied in you, and also in a much larger family tree. May we recognize in these hours as well, some other families, Carol and Stan, and Dorothea and Jim, and Jean and Mark, and even on beyond, all the other women and men whom we have intimately known who have settled down into the peace of ultimate rest.



Dear Nancy & family: Please accept our heartfelt condolences of Fred’s passing back into pure spirit  …  We have so many memories around one of his latter life great works in Litibu Mexico. He helped me design and create one of his sacred gardens, I call it  the Serenity Garden.. His way of doing things was to be meticulous about every detail of the design.


Every rock was accounted for in the great design. The garden flourishes with five mini gardens filled with edible and decorative plants and sculpture. His mark is all over the garden. His name will be placed in the entrance of the garden as the major designer of this place that is enjoyed by the residents of our community and the village near by. The children from the village of all ages love this peaceful environment. His spirit resides here too with this labor of love he gave to all of us.


What a beautiful life, in the duration and completion of his time with us. We are all blessed by this gentle giant…I will miss him and be with him in close proximity when in his garden. Light, love and peace,

          ~~   Salvatore (aka Ray) Caruso



How lucky we are to have known Fred. Nothing kept him from singing, to the very end. This so sums up who Fred was. The light never went out and will continue to shine If we but embody, in our small way, the spirit that was Fred. We give thanks to God for the privilege to know him, to walk with him in his garden, to see his beauty displayed in all he touched. Thanks be to God!
~~   Phyllis and Len Hockley.



We were so delighted to get Fred’s e-mail a very short time ago inviting our participation again in supporting Fred’s Walk, and although he was quite “up front” about his situation at the time of writing, we never expected he would not be here to make that journey himself. But now I’m thinking, yes, indeed, he will be making that journey — just not needing his colleagues to push the wheelchair.


I think I might be able to understand your relief, as primary care-giver, that Fred no longer must struggle to breathe and no longer must suffer the boundaries set on a brilliant, curious mind by a body ravaged by ALS.  But I have no way to understand the sense of grief you must be experiencing as wife of the love of your life, a man who dreamed the impossible dream and had the courage and smarts to make it happen, over and over again.


How blessed we all have been to have been touched by Fred.  How grateful we are, as well you know, that our son, Ben, had you two as his guardians during his 9th grade year of deployment in India. We name Fred, you, your family and the wonderful Songaia Community in our prayers, with great thanksgiving!

~~  Marilyn and Joe Crocker



journey on

journey on

all humankind

future is waiting for you



thank you for your gifts

we sing to you

in the beyond

we are alone

and ever connected

future is waiting for you

journey on

journey on

all humankind

future is waiting for you


blessings on the journey

~~  Jon Mark Elizondo

(new words by me written during a retreat)


May those in our greater order family recall and give thanks for their gift of spiritual energies, passed on to us who yet remain. May the reality of God continue to make us vivid witnesses to the qualities of compassion, inclusiveness, understanding, and resolution enacted in their own way before each of us by Fred, by Stan, by Jim, and by Mark. May we offer thanksgiving for these fully lived lives and remember their transformed presence within each of us. May we, like them, journey on together, as the spiritual family that we are becoming. May Fred be singled out, appreciated and celebrated, today, as yet another great, bright and shining light in the universe. Respectfully,

~~   Charles Lingo and Family