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February 14, 2012


Della Goertz Died on February 5, 2012

Zen do tei jun dai shi / Zen way, faith, refined naturalness

Della with friends

Ananda Dahlenberg, Della Goertz, Betty Warren

July 11, 1913 – Feb 5, 2012

Della, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, was 99 1/2. She was one of Suzuki Roshi’s early students at Sokoji Temple in San Francisco and lived in City Center’s 340 Page Street building for many years.

An excerpt from a letter from Della on Suzuki Roshi, posted on

“In almost every talk Suzuki Roshi encouraged us to have faith and confidence in our Buddha Nature. What was wonderful about Suzuki Roshi is that he thought I was wonderful. Everyone had that same feeling. You felt he was there just for you.

Della in the early days at Zen Center

“He autographed Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind with the character ‘Harmony.’ I said that would be an inspiration for me to have harmony in my life. He said, ‘You don’t have to worry.’ Such confidence! As I left him I always went away feeling special for having been in his presence. ‘We love the great ones, because they bring out the greatness in us.’ Suzuki Roshi was a great teacher because he could see the Buddha nature in us.”

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 15 2012

    Della was always a joy to run into around Page Street. Always smiling and open to everyone, she was a bright and friendly light.

  2. Feb 15 2012

    I remember Della with fondness from my years practicing at City Center in the early 1980’s. She stood out as a grandmotherly presence even then, when so many of us were young. I remember her sitting in a chair in the zendo entryway, as steady, kind and gentle presence. I’ve often thought about her over the years and wondered how she was getting on. May she with all Beings attain Buddha’s Way.

  3. Vera Haile Dalenberg
    Feb 17 2012

    Della provided our children Diane and Laura with a happy Christmas party at the house next door as their first introduction to the Zen Center when they were two years old. She also spoke to children the same kind direct way she spoke to adults. Ananda Claude and I always enjoyed visits with her, and I have thought of her often in these years when she has been farther away. It’s especially good to see the picture of them together. Vera

  4. Brian Goller
    Feb 18 2012

    I remember Della from my first visits to Zen Center in the ’70s. She practiced zazen lying down in the zendo. I thought she was old then but I was very young. Now that I am approaching old age myself she inspires me to think about life’s possibilities and the sweep of time. Ninety-nine and one-half years!

  5. Heather (Erica) Nimeh
    Feb 22 2012

    I first met Della when I had come to 1881 Bush St., looking to join a sitting group. I started to go up the stairs, but, intimidated by the atmosphere and heavy silence, I turned back and was about to leave when Della appeared. With her friendly encouragement and directions, I decided to brave the new situation (being then quite shy) and join the sitters, later becoming a “regular”. So, I owe her my introduction to “real Zen Buddhism”.
    We later became good friends; during periods of unemployment, I was able to do some housework for her at her apartment on Page St., and have many wonderful visits for afternoon tea, etc. She was an inspiration, always. THANKS to ZC for this opportunity to remember Della.


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