Dr. Lee Rainey in Memoriam

We are sad to share the news of the passing of our colleague and friend, Dr. Lee Rainey.  Lee died peacefully in the company of a close friend, on Sunday October 17, 2021.  We know she will be mourned by her family, her many friends and colleagues all over the world. We know she will be mourned by her students, so many of whom formed a special bond with Lee and stayed in touch over the years.

Trained in classical Chinese language and philosophy, Dr. Rainey joined the Department in 1990.  For 31 years, teaching was her primary focus as she offered courses on religious traditions of China and Japan, Mandarin language courses, senior seminars on the classical texts of Confucian and Daoist traditions, as well as courses on Buddhism, Women in Asian Religions, and contemporary Chinese religion, politics, and culture. She actively mentored her students not just as students but as good citizens – one could hardly ever find her alone in her office; typically, she was in the middle of a conversation with one of her students. Dr. Rainey encouraged many students to deepen their studies of Chinese language and culture and was instrumental in establishing a China scholarship program that sent over 20 students to mainland China for a fully funded year of university study. She was sought after as an expert on Chinese thought and was an invited contributor to a number of books and wrote two books, Confucius and Confucianism: The Essentials (2010) and Decoding Dao: Reading the Dao De Jing and the Zhuangzi (2014), at the invitation of the publisher Wiley-Blackwell. Both books, written in Lee’s quintessentially direct voice, emerged out of and then fed back into her teaching. Among her published articles, her work on the Hidden or Secret Women’s Writing,* a unique Chinese language developed in secret from men and preserved by generations of women, was a source of special pride. 

Lee Rainey loved her students and also loved Chinese culture in general: as well as its history, languages, and philosophy, she loved Chinese cuisine, visual arts and aesthetics, and the many friendships she maintained in Chinese communities in Taiwan, mainland China, and other parts of the world.  We join with all who knew her, in mourning.