Stacy Allison Raye, the co-Founding Director with Heather Mitchell of Berkeley’s Monkey Business Camp and Girls on the Go Camp, died on on February 17th after being diagnosed with cancer two years ago. Below, three people who knew her well share their memories of Stacy.
Heather Mitchell, Stacy’s partner, and Nancy O’Connor, Stacy’s mother, write: Stacy Raye was born on December 15th 1960 in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. At the age of 11 Stacy saw the movie “Auntie Mame” and fashioned her life around Mame’s dictum “Live, Live, Live” until her death on February 17th.
Stacy is survived by her cherished partner of 18 years, Heather Mitchell, her mother, Nancy O’Connor, sister Sally Raye McGrew (Frank), niece Sarah McGrew, chosen family Mary Lynn Morales and Karen Rothblatt, as well as a world of wonderful friends. She modeled for all the meaning of courage in dealing with her journey with cancer over the past two years, since her February 2009 diagnosis.
Stacy grew up in Sacramento, attending Crocker-Riverside School, St Francis Middle School, and Bishop Monogue High School. She graduated from UC Berkeley, and lived out her life there until her passing.
Stacy worked with children in some capacity all her life, including directing the Jefferson School YMCA Afterschool Kid’s Club, teaching ASL at Via Nova, Piedmont Playschool, The Snuggery, Dragonfly, Walden, Aurora and many others; teaching pre-school at Step-One in Berkeley and founding, with her partner, Monkey Business Camp and Girls on the Go Camp, which offers vacation recreational camps.
Stacy was an intrepid traveler. From the exotic streets of Bangkok to the highlands of Nepal, she found wonder and meaning.
By Denise Leto writes: There was a shine, whether she was in a room with one person, in a crowd, in the city, in nature, at a concert, and it was always, without fail, unmistakably hers. I met Stacy when we were students at UCB and that is what I remember about her most amid the books and the teachers and the campus: the luminescence of a singular spirit for whom life itself was a balm.
To children, Stacy was the way leaves are to a tree, or water is to the ocean, or air is to breathing. She was always somehow able to reach in and find a union with them that was already there, and make it bigger, brighter, ever more life-affirming.
Her talent as an educator was a skill but most importantly, it was a gift, one that she joined with the brilliance of her beloved partner, Heather, and manifested so beautifully in the world.
Stacy’s ebullience and intellect were dazzling. She had a sense of humor that was robust and quick; she was a virtuoso of joy, laughter was a dynamic, abundant, catching experience with her. She would talk endlessly about ideas, music, books, politics, relationships, food, anything and everything. Her curiosity and capacity for life and culture extended beyond any borders: she traveled the world, she told me once, “Not just to see more, but better.”
I celebrate also her contemplative side. Years ago, she wrote a poem about a woman with a cello crossing a bridge at twilight with birds around her. The poem spoke to the origin of music, its grace and beauty. During the years of our friendship, during her struggle with cancer, and after her death Stacy has taught me to see not just better, but more. I can see her now: a woman, with music, crossing a bridge, her suffering behind, leaving us, only to give us — in our grief for her loss and our joy for having known her — the everlasting gift of her love.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 19th at St. John’s Church, 2727 College Avenue, Berkeley at 4:30pm, with a potluck to follow, and more stories and sharing from 7-8:30pm. Donations may be made to the Stacy Raye Memorial Fund, c/o Monkey Business Camp, 2880A Sacramento Street, Berkeley, CA 94702. The fund will give annual scholarships to children affected by cancer. In lieu of donations, Stacy’s family asks that you do something meaningful for a child in your life.