John Schlenck: A Personal Reflection

by Br. Shankara (Gary Kemper)
Interim Coordinating Editor, American Vedantist
Resident Minister, Vedanta Center of Atlanta

John Schlenck was a great devotee of Ramakrishna-Holy Mother-Vivekananda Vedanta, deeply committed to its takIng root in the West. The longer I knew him, the more evident that became. We became friends in 1981, and began to work together soon afterward. That continued up to the time of his death. He was a good friend, and one of the most talented people I’ve known.

John came to live with me at the Atlanta Center in September 2013. After 53 years as a resident of the Vedanta Society of New York, he did not come to Atlanta to retire. In fact, John worked harder on creative projects, including this magazine, than he’d had time for in New York. Swami Tatagathanandaji’s article, which follows this personal note, details many ways in which John served the New York center.

As you read on in this edition of American Vedantist, other writers—qualified to judge John’s musicianship—pay tribute to his gifts as a composer and songwriter. I knew him best as an author and editor. He was a fine writer, but truly excelled as the sensitive and perceptive editor of American Vedantist. We served together primarily on the magazine, and as members of the board of trustees for Vedanta West Communications.

John left the body due to a massive brain hemorrhage on Sunday, January 25, 2015. Apparently, it was a quick and peaceful passing: At 7:30pm he was in the monastery kitchen fixing dinner; by a few minutes before midnight it was clear he was gone.

As a friend John was trusting, faithful, and generous. As a housemate he was light-hearted and easy to live with. He is deeply missed—as a companion, as a fellow student, and as a colleague working to assure the growth and integrity of Vedanta in the West.

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