David Rolls (Tenzin’s son)

Tenzin Yongdu was born Harold Rolls. He was an architect by profession. He married his wife, Marilyn, and had four children. We grew up in Nyack, NY as he worked in NYC from 1963-1975. He discovered Karma Choling, moved to Vermont, and eventually took monastic vows under his first Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa. The farmhouse became a Buddhist retreat center. The design Harold made was heralded in a prominent Architectural magazine. During this time he and a business partner developed three projects supplying housing to many in Vermont. He was given his current name, Tenzin Yongdu by Jamgon Rinpoche, upon taking Buddhist monastic vows, which he did during the cremation ceremonies for Trungpa Rinpoche at Karme Choling. He set aside attainment of enlightenment to be a Bodhisattva; he let go of all his possessions; and he was on his path. Upon the death of Chogyam Trungpa, he connected with his Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul III. Rinpoche asked Tenzin Yongdu to travel with him as the vision for the Rigpe Dorje Institute developed. It was decided for Pullahari, near Kathmandu, Nepal - but before it came to be, Rinpoche Jamgon Kongtrul died in a car crash. It all might have fallen apart, if not for the amazing diligence and compassion of Tenzin Dorje. My father praised him as the central hub of the wheel, holding all the spokes together. Their mutual love, honor, appreciation, and compassion for their former Rinpoche helped them to facilitate the incredible accomplishments that benefit so many at Pullahari and beyond. Tenzin Yongdu came back to NY to generously and compassionately sit with his former wife, Marilyn, for about a year as she deteriorated in hospitals till her death. He also was getting old and his lungs couldn’t handle the altitude of Nepal, so about eight years ago he moved to be with his daughter, Evelynn. He taught students at a local library in Canajoharie as well as online, locally and internationally - even while on his hospital bed gasping for air. Just before he died, Tenzin Dorje called. Sharon held the phone up to my father's ear. He was finally resting from the exhausting effort to get air. She said his complexion calmed and he murmured, seeming to acknowledge recognition of his friend. The phone call ended and five minutes later he stopped breathing. I imagine the call allowed the release from his suffering. For the next few hours there were many tears as we realized the loss and value of Tenzin Yongdu.