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You are here: Home Resources In Honor of Fred

In Honor of Fred Lanphear

Celebrating the Life of Fred Lanphear

By Nancy Lanphear

It has been over a week since Fred took his last breath. So much has happened since then, many connections through cards, emails and visits. Ritual and ceremony has been a large part of our community and family together. Here is a brief description of several events and an invitation to the Memorial Service. 

Thursday, September 9th, 2010: I am writing this evening not being sure how life will be in the morning. Fred has spent the last hours with great difficulty in breathing and realizing that his life has taken a dramatic shift. Knowing that the end of his life was near, he spent all evening (with his bipap mask on to aid his breathing) talking with individual family and community members. The community sang, Fred joined in. Our family was present with the exception of Noah (in Norway), Ilaria (in Scotland) and Rachel (in Montreal). Ilaria and Noah were with us through Skype webcam.

Then about 11:10, after taking his usual sleeping meds, our children and grandchildren 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 of leg lifts. At 11:25, with his family by his side, Fred took his last breath and let go of his physical body, it was a very peaceful death. Fred had finished his work! I miss him terribly. It has been a long, difficult journey over the last 3 years but Fred was always faithful to his decision to accept what life had given him and to live fully within those limits.

All during Friday morning, neighbors came by either to hold me and/or sit with Fred's body. By early afternoon we had the community/family gathering where we told stories, shared tears, and reflected on Fred's life. We had hoped to have his body in the common house but it was a difficult task getting him there and left him with someone on watch. That evening a vigil was held around his body as it lay in bed with about 35 people and two dogs stuffed into our small bedroom. Again it was a time for singing, tears, laughter and an incredible prayer offered by a dear friend. It was a powerful experience of celebrating death and aliveness all at once.

We sent Fred out on Saturday noon after a processional with his body through his beloved garden, singing as we went. There were gifts of Songaia eggs, tomatoes, dahlias, a copy of our song book, poetry written by our granddaughter, Ella, a note from the youngest grandchild, Matthew, announcing his farewell to the "best grandfather ever", and more piled on Fred's chest. Fred was dressed in a Kenyan dashiki and his grandfather blanket and sporting a black beret from the by gone days of the 60's. The send off was a weaving of many tears, songs and joy. After singing the Irish blessing and Amazing Grace with dignity, we burst into New Community Bound and Harambee! Finally, his body and "casket" made of cardboard that had been graced by signatures, drawings and love notes from family and the community, were off in his space ship (an image he chose at a recent elder retreat).

Please join us at Fred's Memorial Service

PLACE: Songaia Community, Bothell, WA

DATE: October 16, 2010 from 1pm to 4pm

PROGRAM: Reflections from Family, Community and Friends, Burial of Ashes, and Walking the Land

POTLUCK: Please bring beverages and cookies to share. Veggies and fruit will be provided.

RSVP is you are planning to attend with the number of people in your group. Reservations can be made at Fred's Memorial Website.

Please dress according to the weather (umbrella and appropriate shoes if rain is in the forecast) and Carpool if it is possible. Offsite parking will be available. Please let us know if you have a disability or need assistance. 

GIFTS: In lieu of gifts, donations can be made to Rite of Passage Journeys, ALS Association (Fred's Folks), Kirkland Congregational Church UCC, and Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Donations made to Rite of Passage Journeys will be dedicated to our Legacy Fund in honor of our elders and mentors. You can read more about the Legacy Fund by visiting our Donation webpage

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