Obituary: Rev. Taihaku Gretchen Priest | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Rev. Taihaku Gretchen Priest 

A founding abbot of Woodbury's Shao Shan Temple embodied the Buddhist teachings of compassion and caring

Published June 7, 2021 at 6:15 a.m. | Updated June 7, 2021 at 10:32 p.m.

click to enlarge Rev. Taihaku Gretchen Priest - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Rev. Taihaku Gretchen Priest

Having lived a life full of exuberance, caring and miraculous experiences, Rev. Taihaku Gretchen Priest passed away suddenly and peacefully in the early morning hours on Monday, May 24, 2021. As the founding abbot of Shao Shan Temple — a small Soto Zen temple in Woodbury, Vt. — she lived a life that influenced and inspired many people to find the still center in meditation. Her way of being in the world so beautifully embodied the Buddhist teachings of compassion and caring that she connected easily with people from all walks of life. She was capable of doing anything she chose — she could design and build a temple, train at a strict Soto Zen monastery in Japan, replace a toilet, grow basketball-size rutabagas, and create five-star culinary delights — all while having an immense amount of fun.

She was born in Marblehead Mass., and her early years were characterized by a love of sailing and art. She often used sailing as a metaphor in her teachings and loved the intimate connection with the wild natural world of wind and water. Her artistic talents continued to manifest as construction projects in which she cared for minute details.

Taihaku Gretchen Priest was a loving and playful mother and grandmother, and her life continues through her family — in particular, her daughter and family, Leafye Pante, Marcus, Amelia and Sebastian; her son and family, Eben Broadbent, Angelica, Liana and Kai; her sister, Laury Lacy; and her brother, Robert Bradley Priest. Her life and legacy also continue through her dedicated Zen students, and her Dharma Heir, Kenzan.

The family has suggested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shao Shan Temple via

A loving visionary, Rev. Taihaku Nichiren Daiosho, often spoke of the “700-year plan” for Shao Shan Temple’s continuation — a continuation well beyond her life and well beyond yours or mine. May we also be inspired by her vision to care for the present in a way that considers generations to come.

Arrangements are in care of the Ready Funeral & Cremation Service. To send online condolences to her family, please visit

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