Esther Rochon writes: One of the founders of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, David S. (Tex) Humphries, died peacefully on Friday, September 4, 2009.
Tex was born March 15, 1948 in Lubbock, TX and attended Texas Tech before moving to Nepal in ’71 (Peace Corps). This is when he had his first contact with the Dharma, both with the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages. He stayed in Asia, and took refuge and monastic ordination in Bodhgaya with His Holiness the XVIth Karmapa; his monastic name was Tsültrim Töndrup. He served as one of His Holiness’s monks – the first Western monk of His Holiness. When His Holiness came to North America, Tsültrim was one of the monks accompanying him; His Holiness asked him to stay and work for Trungpa Rinpoche.
From then on everyone knew him as Tsültrim, and he was very active and present at land centers and big events. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, his shining head, smiling face and monk’s robes were well-known.
One day, as he was serving Trungpa Rinpoche at Karmê-Chöling, they got into a conversation about the future of monasticism in the West, which was a topic dear to the heart of Trungpa Rinpoche. The outcome of that was that Tsültrim was sent to Nova Scotia by Trungpa Rinpoche with the mission to find a suitable location for a Buddhist monastery. Tsültrim searched high and low, and through family connections he finally found a property for sale in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia, which was bought and became what is now Gampo Abbey. He lived there from the start, and for several years.
After the passing away of Trungpa Rinpoche in 1987, Tsültrim went to Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche’s three years retreat center Chanteloube, in the Dordogne area of France. He spent about two years in strict retreat.
He came back to the US in 1992. He gave back his monastic vows and, from then on, he lived in Kansas City in a very humble and discrete way, working as a lab technician for Quest Diagnostics. From that time on, people knew him mostly as Tex. He had started corresponding with prisoners while on retreat at Chanteloube, and once he was back in the US he became more active as a prison chaplain in Kansas.
In October 2008, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and went on sick leave, using the free time of the first months of his illness, when he was still quite energetic and valid, to reconnect fully with Buddhist practice, and to contact some of his teachers and dharma friends. However, his health deteriorated; the Fischer family, family of his partner David, took excellent care of him in the last months of his life.
His memory will live on as someone very joyful and humble, intense and poetic, one of the pioneers of monasticism in North America and an excellent person by all standards.
Tex is survived by his mother, Virginia Humphries of Paris, TX; his sister, Denise Clubb (Michael) of Dallas; nephews Mark and Matt; and three great-nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, David Humphries, in 1978, and his longtime partner, David Fischer, in 2002.
(Buddhist biographical data quoted from memory and from letters – there might be mistakes – Esther Rochon)