Bob Fine (Robert Glynn Fine), exceptional visual artist and founding member of the original San Francisco and Berkeley Dharmadhatus and Padma Jong, passed away in his home the evening of October 27th, 2023. With Bob was his wife, Laura Garrison. Born February 25, 1938, Bob grew up in the Bay Area, served in the Air Force, and lived the North Beach jazz life in the 50’s. He lived next door to Suzuki Roshi and the Sokoji Buddhist Temple on Bush Street in the 60’s, and was seminal in the art and music world of San Francisco of that era. When students of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, among them Henry Schaeffer, brought Rinpoche to the Bay Area in 1970, they brought him to see the beautiful Mission District studio on Shotwell Street of Bob Fine, Jerry Granelli, Bill Ham, and Fred Marshall, upon which Rinpoche stated/suggested, “This would make a wonderful Dharmadhatu.” Thus the establishment of the first Bay Area Dharmadhatu. A couple of years later, Bob, along with Jerry Granelli and Steve Carter, turned a garage in the backyard of the Granelli’s home at 5th and Camelia in Berkeley, into the first Berkeley Dharmadhatu. Rinpoche visited and blessed this space in 1973. Coincidentally this corner home was next door to the offices of Shambhala Publications, founded by Sam Bercholz and Michael Fagan. This same year, Bob had the fortunate experience of participating in the first Refuge Ceremony offered by Rinpoche in the Bay Area.
As the size of the Berkeley Dharmadhatu grew in numbers, Bob, along with several other early Berkeley sangha members established the second Berkeley Dharmadhatu in a lovely home on Kentucky Avenue in the Berkeley Hills overlooking the entire Bay. In early 1974, after several searches, the Bay Area sangha purchased land in Mendocino County, on the Middle Fork of the Eel River along the Covelo Road, to establish a retreat center for Trungpa Rinpoche’s students, which focused on meditation, the arts, and was slated to become the Maitri Therapeutic Community. Bob was one of the first residents of Padma Jong along with Jessie Friedman and their newborn daughter, Manzanita. Other early residents were Peter Volz who oversaw a magnificent organic garden, George Holmes who ran the bar, yes the bar, and the Granellis bought a house across the road. During HH Karmapa XVI’s first visit to the US and Bay Area in 1974, Bob Fine was among the original Kasung corps, which Trungpa Rinpoche created at that time to protect the Karmapa. Among various activities in San Francisco including the Black Crown Ceremony, His Holiness visited and blessed Padma Jong during that visit. Bob and Jessie moved to Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, CO in 1980 with their three small children. While Jessie and Bob‘s lives soon took different trajectories, Bob‘s life continued to be steeped in art production, meditation practice, and indestructible love for his four children, for the Buddhadharma and the profound teachers that graced his life.
Bob leaves behind his wife Laura and son Nicholas, 32, as well as his three children with Jessie Friedman, Manzanita Fine, Mingus Fine, and Eartha Fine Parris, and their three children, respectively Jasper Wolf Gresham, 13; Hazel Lena Aloha Parris, 5; and Montgomery Marshall Fine, 1. Bob also leaves a vast archive of wonderful art as well as history in the San Francisco and subsequent world art scene and also the Vajradhatu-Shambhala community established and developed by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Bob leaves a legacy aptly described by his Refuge Name given to him by Trungpa Rinpoche, Sengé Rangdröl, Self-Liberated Lion.
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