The first time I took her picture in 1986 Jeanne Railey was in a high school play playing the role of “Molly” in Mousetrap.
Her love of the theater would be a focal point of her life.
She would later join the Telegram-Tribune as a writer, preferring Raven J. Railey as her byline.
At the same time she was producing a huge volume of copy for the paper, she would work nights and weekends acting in local productions from Shakespeare to contemporary authors.
When she left the newspaper and region to obtain a master’s degree in theater from the University of Louisville her knowledge of the local wine industry was so deep that she would often freelance articles and sometimes break local stories from half-way across the country.
Her final months included a battle with cancer and the health care industry.
Shakespeare could find plenty of material to write a tragedy based on our current health care system.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday January 12, 2013 for Raven Jeanne Railey Donovan at Talley Vineyards’ gazebo, 3031 Lopez Drive, Arroyo Grande.
Her obituary, published October 17, 2012 follows:
Raven Jeanne was born Jan. 12, 1970 in Ogden, Utah, and entered her eternal rest on Oct.13, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. She was a 1988 graduate of Morro Bay High School. She earned her BA from UC Santa Barbara and her MFA from University of Louisville. A talented writer and actor, her first book of poetry was published in 1988. She worked for The Tribune from 1999 until 2004, serving in a variety of roles, including Business Editor and Assistant City Editor in the Paso Robles office. After moving to Louisville, she continued to write several columns for The Tribune, including the Follow-Up File and wine business column. She also wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal from 2005 to 2008.
Raven was a lifelong theatre artist and educator. She received her Master’s degree in theater from the University of Louisville and served at her alma mater as a Theatre Arts lecturer since 2005 and as adjunct faculty at Kentucky State University from 2008 to 2010. Raven worked nationally in the theater world, providing her wealth of knowledge and inspirational energy to numerous theatrical organizations and igniting the passion of her students who have since gone out into the world to share their love of the stage. She was active in productions on the Central Coast, Actors Theatre, Pandora Productions and the Louisville arts scene. She contributed theatre reviews for the Louisville Art Review.
An avid traveler and explorer, Raven Jeanne lived in several states, as well as Costa Rica and Spain, where she immersed herself in Spanish language and culture as part of her education. She traveled extensively in Europe and was fluent in both French and Spanish languages. She was active in environmental causes and enjoyed hiking and exploring the planet.
She was a Christian, baptized into the Baptist faith in her youth. She was a member of the Silverbranch Sisterhood, a Goddess-centered women’s spirituality circle. She honored all spiritual traditions, and her love of nature and reverence for the Divine in all its forms inspired her community and guided her life’s path.
She was preceded in death by her sister, Paula Railey Pierce, formerly of San Luis Obispo and Los Osos. She is survived by her husband and life-long love, Christopher Donovan, whom she married on Sept. 30, 2012. She is also survived by her mother Myrtle Railey of Sacramento; father and stepmother Jim and Betty Railey of San Luis Obispo and Kentucky; brother Jim Railey of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and his family; and sister Peggy Railey Tschauner of Shelbyville, Kentucky, and her family. Her memory and zest for living is celebrated by her family, including six nieces and nephews, dozens of cousins, aunts, uncles and friends across the world.
Expressions of sympathy can be made to the American Cancer Society and Hosparus of Louisville, Kentucky.