In Memoriam

Margaret Gesang Suolang Esterman Rinpoche

On July 22, 2023 a gathering of friends, family, students and colleagues was held to commemorate and celebrate the life of Margaret Gesang Suolang Esterman Rinpoche, who passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her beloved family, including all her children and grandchildren, July 4, 2023, from the effects of leukemia.

In addition to being held at the Wasatch Retreat Center in the heart of Salt Lake City, (the ECC, where many Kanzeon/Big Mind events have been held in the past), it was also broadcast live on Zoom.  A recording of the Zoom meeting is featured in the box below:

Participants were invited to share thoughts or memories about Margaret during this live gathering, and on this webpage devoted to her memory.  You may read others’ comments in the box below the photos at the bottom of this page.

Please do not send flowers, but if you would like to offer a donation in honor of Margaret, please do so to a charity of your choice or to one of the many organizations which she supported, including:


Some thoughts and memories of Margaret:

24 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. 11 Jul 2023 8:31 PM

    Annie M

    Margaret was kind and open-hearted… and very easy going on people. She was always nice to me and not everyone at the center was. It seemed to me like she was casually calm, almost nonchalant. I’m not saying she was that way, just that she seemed so to me. I sat and cried when I received the news and am sending love toward her spirit and her whole family.

  2. 12 Jul 2023 4:32 AM

    Anonymous member

    I was so sad this morning to hear about Margaret passing away. Just crying. I met Mark & Margaret on Ameland in Holland at one of the ‘mahasanghagatherings’ there. Maybe 15 years ago. Remember the friendliness. Later, several times, when I came to Salt Lake City to be part of workshops with Genpo Roshi, I could stay with them at their house, sharing meals, Margarets nice food, all the talks and the many laughs. The good spirit of their house. Generosity. I was very happy to stay with them. Dear Margaret, beautiful soul, you are greatly missed. My thoughts especially with Mark and family. With love from Sweden.

  3. 12 Jul 2023 12:01 PM

    Michael Berger

    It is with great sorrow that I read of Margaret’s passing… All of my love, sympathy, and condolences to Mark and all of her family, friends , and sangha. I will always remember and reflect upon Margaret’s kindness, humility and generosity. She embodied gratitude, appreciation, and compassion, and was an example to all of us. She was very unassuming in spite of her great wisdom. Blessings and Love, Gassho…

  4. 13 Jul 2023 3:53 PM

    Deb Baima Gabu Jones Rinpoche

    Gesang Suolong Rinpoche is one of the kindest, most patient, and compassionate beings that I have had the wonderful pleasure of knowing. Her gentle spirit was ever present to help where ever she was needed. She was a great example of how to be present, how to listen, how to use wisdom to guide others along the path of Buddhism. She had a great sense of humor and I loved to hear her laughter. She was a great cook and I would often smile to hear her beautiful voice as she was happily humming in the kitchen preparing meals for those that attended retreats. I wish her well now and always as she finds liberation and I look forward to meeting her again someday.

  5. 14 Jul 2023 8:41 AM

    Jacqueline Wellenstein

    My sincere condolences on the passing of Margaret. May she have a swift passage to the other shore….

    The few times I visited Salt Lake City and I met her, I was struck by her kindness, but also her clarity and her generosity. The last time I visited in 2019 she was just diagnosed and it was devastating news. She leaves behind in my mind the energy of Love and Compassion and interconnectedness.

    May her memory live on in her family and all the people who were touched by her presence.

  6. 16 Jul 2023 10:56 AM

    Frances Park-Stryk

    We came into the world together and had many adventures, big and small,but what I remember most about my twin was her gentleness, her sense of fairness, her kindness and her compassion for all living creatures. I loved her deeply and my heart goes out to her family, Mark, Sophia, Isabel, Zachary and their spouses and children and to my siblings Pamela and Jim and our children. Our world will be a sadder place without Margaret. You will be missed, my dear one.

  7. 16 Jul 2023 7:23 PM

    Tim Clark

    I met Margaret in Arlington Virginia in the late seventies, through my former wife when she and Margaret were both in the same local play group, with our kids – that would be our David and her Sophia – and almost simultaneously and independently I met Mark through a Zen sitting group at their home, often drinking tea with them or having brunch socially.

    What a wonderful, kind, non-judging, creative, and nurturing person to be around. Her family knows this better than anyone, I am sure. But it extended outward to many others.

    Margaret reached out to help people in a relaxed way, when asked, or when she thought it clearly made sense, without posing as Lady Bountiful or setting herself up as special – although she *was* special. She helped people kindly, because that was her nature, one which was simply evident, in a very charming and non-intimidating way, to those who looked.

    When my second wife Susan was dying of cancer four years ago Margaret made a special trip with Mark and Zachary to visit us, and she brought all kinds of documentation on anti-cancer diets and the like, and talked with her. But what was most truly effective and helpful to Susan was just that Margaret came and spent time with her – Margaret brought her some calmness, peace, and friendship at an important time. I don’t know if I ever expressed adequately how much this helped – but it really did.

    No special decoration was needed to highlight her character, which shone through. The positive energy she created has been passed on through many people.

    Goodbye Margaret, I am very grateful to have known you. Deep condolences to all the Esterman family!

  8. 17 Jul 2023 11:42 AM


    No words can describe the loss for my teacher and friend. Thank you to the family for sharing many years with Gesang Soulang. She opened my eyes to a world of sacred knowledge . We traveled to far off lands to celebrate his holiness Dorje Chang Buddha . We together practiced , meditated, celebrated , chanted, cooked , walked and much teaching. I will miss her , but know she is in the promise land .

  9. 18 Jul 2023 8:04 AM

    Mary Jo

    I am heartbroken to hear this sad, sad news given to me from my dear friend, Frederick. I knew Margaret in New York and then with Mark and children in Virginia. One of the last communications I had from her was when she sent a beautiful present to my newly adopted daughter 22 years ago. Margaret had a light that shone from within, and a bearing that, although elegant and a bit mysterious, was simple and deeply humble. I always thought that she was a born Buddhist way before she officially became one. I send my loving and deeply felt condolences to Mark, Sophia, Isabel, and Zachary and especially to Franny (as I remember her, but it may be Frances now!). I will try to attend the Zoom service on Saturday to commemorate such a beautiful soul.

  10. 18 Jul 2023 11:27 AM

    Nancy Miller

    I attended the dharma classes that Margaret taught – she was very generous with her time and with explaining the Buddhist teachings. I learned so much and it greatly improved my life. I am glad that I was able to see her smiling face at the Kwan Yin ceremony a few months ago. She really made a difference in the world. My sympathies for her family.

  11. 20 Jul 2023 2:42 PM

    Vicki Rosenwald

    It is hard to imagine life without my sister-in-law Margaret. And on the other hand, everything I learned from her and all the things we did together, mostly decades ago when the kids were small (and plentiful) will always continue to reside inside my mind.

    She was always so much calmer than I was when confronted with the disruption of little kids. That was an inspiration to me, and finally 40 years later I am pretty calm within a madhouse. She also once said to me “No more boring dinners”. This might not sound important to you, but it was a revolution to me, and we are still living like that. I think about her almost every evening in the kitchen. I think about her when I look at the Hurleyville paintings on our living room walls. She taught me that you can learn to do almost anything – grow vegetables in the desert, upholster furniture, learn to quilt. These things were mysterious to me.

    I wish I could have said these things to her, but she didn’t invite that sort of communication. What I wanted her to know was that being in a family with her was important and wonderful.

  12. 20 Jul 2023 9:41 PM

    Frederick Noonan

    Margaret was a Zen treasure, obvious from the moment you met her — warm and generous, but practical too, down to earth with a quiet sense of humor. And always ready to be a friend with her kind bemused smile as she checked in from whatever mysterious other world she inhabited. The composer Schubert, an astute celebrator of friendship and humanity, wrote “Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.” That was Margaret. Whether you saw her often or only occasionally over the years, she lingered memorably in your life.

    I have a painting of hers I have treasured since she spontaneously gave it to me when I expressed admiration for it years ago. It shows a placid summer meadow in Hurleyville, New York, glowing warmly beneath an open blue sky, For the past forty years it has been in my house wherever I have lived. And thus I think of Margaret, basking in the natural sunny pleasure of the world and urging us to be there also.

  13. 21 Jul 2023 3:46 PM

    Jim Park

    As a child growing up in a very crowded Brooklyn apartment with our parents and my sisters I remember all the good times we had sharing holidays and vacations. We all squeezed into a car and almost every weekend we ventured out of our apartment and usually with our cousins and aunts-uncles to the parks and beaches. Margaret always seemed happiest outdoors. I also recall Margaret always singing and being creative. We all went our separate ways as teenagers and young adults but we all seemed to get back together in the 80s when we all started having children. These are my best memories of Margaret and her new family while we visited in Virginia and the start of many Delaware beach vacations. I also have very fond memories of our recent reunions either out West or when her and Mark came for a visit to NYC. When I think of Margaret I will also remember her as the happiest, friendliest, creative and kindest person. I miss her very much and I love her dearly. Your brother Jimmy

  14. 21 Jul 2023 4:42 PM

    Carla Hannaford

    I have been blessed to know Margaret since the early 1990’s. She taught me to write and has mentored me through 5 books(editions) over the years. She has been a dear friend and inspiration — always exploring new things — pyramids for her garden, writing her valuable garden book, writing her book “And For My Next Number” to help children with math, her cutter/mixer which I have used alot, and the depth of her love, presence and advice coming out of a deep spiritual practice that she embodied in all areas of her life. Always a great support, she even helped set me up with a website, and a video of the dominance work. Without Margaret, I not have experienced so many of the adventures in my life — I miss her deeply and am thankful our paths crossed so many years ago.

  15. 21 Jul 2023 5:55 PM

    Nicole Wong

    Rinpoche Gesang Suolang contributed tremendously to the process of translating some of the Dharmas imparted by Namo Dorje Chang Buddha III. Over the past few years, she reviewed many drafts and gave many suggestions. She was always generous in giving of herself to help others. She was always humble, patient, dependable, honorable, and had the kindest intention. It was such a blessing to have worked with her and learned from her. No words can express my appreciation and gratitude. Gesang was a compassionate teacher, a kind friend, and an inspiration. Wishing the blessings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will always be with Gesang and everyone in her family!

  16. 21 Jul 2023 9:55 PM

    Isaac Esterman

    Margaret was my aunt – my father’s brother (Mark’s) wife. I am sure I spent more time with her and Mark and their family when I was younger and now less as I have aged and our families get together less. When I was younger I know I took the idea of family for granted but looking back I was very, very lucky to have aunts and uncles and cousins to know and we have stayed in touch. Margaret must have been incredibly patient with all of us running around – I can’t imagine how much she cooked, cleaned, etc. for me and my siblings and surely tolerated whatever hijinks and eccentricities we visited upon their house.

    Becoming a bit older I was always in awe of discovering a new unknown (to me) talent of Margaret’s – that professional looking painting on the wall – that was her, and so was the expert level gardening, the crafting and probably lots of other things I didn’t know about. I was / am jealous. And I’m sad that she’s gone.

  17. 22 Jul 2023 10:13 AM

    Fa Zang Rinpoche

    Oh Wonderful One

    You are wonderfully kind, love radiates all around you, you showed compassion even in difficult times and practiced well.

    Your smiles and strength are an inspiration to all.

    You learned from Buddha well and many could see your understanding.

    You dedicated your merits from which all benefited.

    Now its your turn to utilize the Treasury of the Dharma to Reach the other shore.

    May you go toward the bright clear light, undisturbed, without looking back, without looking forward but always now, now now.

    Fa Zang Rinpoche

  18. 22 Jul 2023 11:18 AM


    Gasang, having only spent several days with you at Master ZZ’s, I felt I had met a kindred spirit. May you continue on the Bodhisattva path bringing all beings to an awakened state. Sadu, sadu, sadu

  19. 22 Jul 2023 1:29 PM

    David Farrell

    Thank you, Mark, for making this opportunity to hear and share memories of Margaret. It is often overwhelming to me how much she has meant to me and how much I will miss her physical presence in this world. She never “taught” me anything, but I have learned so very much from her and I have no doubt I will continue learning from her as she lives on in my memory. It is hardly surprising that she has had this effect on so many people. When I attended the Kuan Yin Dharma Assembly in Salt Lake several years ago, your family welcomed me into your home and it was like I had been transported to a different universe of calm, love, and joy. I am grateful for what your partnership with Margaret has brought into this world and beyond grateful for your sharing it with all of us.

  20. 23 Jul 2023 10:11 AM


    Mark and family, I am so sorry for your loss. Although I never knew Margaret well, she touched my life and supported my practice at Kanzeon. Her quiet presence was strong and her occasional comments clear and deep. I’m grateful for her life. May she accomplish her vows and continue to benefit all beings.

  21. 30 Jul 2023 1:27 PM

    Cindy Hall

    Dear Mark, Sophia, Isabel and family,

    Thank you for hosting such beautiful gathering to celebrate the life of Margaret. I appreciate the stories you and others shared describing what a generous, creative, fun, committed, no-nonsense person she was.

    I cherish my interactions with Margaret during those first years after the two of you moved to Salt Lake and practicing at Kanzeon together. Her authenticity and forthrightness still inspire me.

    And, what a treat to hear Margaret’s beautiful voice on the Now for My Next Number CD. Margaret’s lyrics, Sophia’s illustrations and the musical compositions are clever and charming and fun.

    Thank you so much for sharing Margaret’s outstanding Margaretness with us.

    love, Cindy

  22. 31 Jul 2023 10:50 AM

    Santiago Jimenez

    I’m so sad to hear about Margaret’s passing, and It’s a shock that I’m only finding out today after being virtually away for the last weeks.

    I remember Margaret’s sweet smile, as well as her kind and strong presence. I’m so blessed that I got to cross paths with her in this life time.

    My loving thoughts go out to Mark and the entire family. Deep bows of love, gratitude and admiration.

  23. 1 Aug 2023 4:30 PM

    Pamela Park

    Russell and I have just watched the video of the memorial service, on July 22nd. It was very moving to say the least! We regret not having been able to participate in the service, but we are so pleased to have had this video opportunity to hear the moving memories of Margaret, offered by her family and friends.

    It’s hard to accept that Margaret has died, is gone, especially for me, an older sister – it wasn’t her turn and I feel the deep sadness of this turn of fate. But she lived well in so many senses, having known life’s most meaningful experiences, which the participants in today’s service memorialized.

    I really don’t know what the after life has in store for me, but it’s a delight right now to imagine that we would continue to be sisters as we had been in this life.

  24. 10 Nov 2023 8:08 AM

    Suzanne Ehrenhalt

    I knew Margaret slightly from her time in Arlington, Va. I wish I had gotten to know her better. I just found out about her passing. My deepest condolences to Mark, Sophia, Isabel, and Zachary.

    I logged onto this site to share one simple story. Back in the 80’s, when our children were small, Margaret and I were members of a small, nursery school co-op. The school had actually begun as an informal babysitting coop, called Mother’s Day Out, but it had evolved other the years to include teachers and a director. The time had come to give the school a more formal name. A contest was held to name the school and guess who won?

    It was Margaret who came up with the absolutely perfect name, I thought, of Kinhaven School. Not only that, but she designed a splendid logo of a large oak tree, spreading its green, protective branches over its little acorns.

    Over 35 years later, Kinhaven School is still going strong in Arlington. Although I haven’t participated in the school since those early times, I believe the Bodhisattva spirit of Margaret still abides—in the class for three-year-olds called
    Shoots, the class for four-year-old class called Acorns, and the combined class for four and five year olds, called Oaks.

    Margaret was a very creative and artistic person who gave generously of herself to others. I am grateful for the time i knew her.

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