Louise (Bullington) Lokensgard and Melvin Lokensgard

Louise Bullington was a woman who was intellectually and philosophically drawn to Buddhism, which she discovered through books in the 1930s. She and Melvin Lokensgard were married in the mid-1930s (probably 1935) while they were neighbors living in the apartment building at 25 East Delaware in Chicago.

They soon moved to Highland Park and by 1942 were living in Lake County, on Melouise Farm, where Melvin could raise his horses and the two of them could raise their children.

Melvin was an elder in the Libertyville Presbyterian Church, but embraced the concepts of Buddhism and was a genial host to the many theologians, ministers, swamis, and writers who came to dinner at the farm.

After a move to Connecticut because of Melvin’s career, Louise continued her reading in Buddhism and was in communication through letters with various theologians. When the family returned to Illinois in 1950, this time to Wilmette because of the school system, Louise was able to be more active with a circle of intellectual and philosophical writers and ministers.

Mrs. Minnie Kubose and Louise had met beginning in 1952. The Wilmette family home was open and used for receptions and overflow temple guests, such as the Venerable Amritnanda from Nepal. Dinner guests in the early to mid-1950s included Erich Fromm, Paul Tillich, Swami Vishwananda, and others. Dinner conversations were engaging and concerned religion and philosophy.

On any given day, it was not unusual to have afternoon or evening gatherings in the living room of thirty or more people involved in Buddhism. Some of the guests included the Revs. Kubose, Ashikaga, and Saito.

During this time, Louise would often go to the old temple on Leland Avenue to help in the office and to help Rev. Kubose with his writing. Also during this time, Melvin provided stalwart support of Louise’s activities and donated time, money, and ideas to Buddhist temples in Chicago, not only to BTC but also to Rev. Kono of MBT.

Louise’s sincere efforts to become a true student of Buddhism and to be a practicing Buddhist, as well as Melvin’s unwavering support, led to having Buddhist ministers in Chicago ask her to attend the World Parliament of Religions in 1962 in New Delhi as a representative of the Midwest. She so wanted to do that, but illness and death overtook her before she was able to do so.