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John S. Rainey
John Rainey obit pic

John Stringer Rainey, Camden attorney and philanthropist, died Saturday, March 14, 2015 at age 73. He was a practicing attorney who also served as Chairman of the Board of Greenville-based Easlan Capital, Inc., a real estate development firm. 

From 2003 to 2010, he served as Chairman of the South Carolina Board of Economic Advisors, the state’s chief economic advisory board, responsible for all state revenue forecasting. By statute he was the chief economic spokesman for the state. 

From 1990 to 2000, he served as Chairman of the Board of Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, the nation’s largest publicly-owned electric utility based upon net generation of electricity. He also served as Chairman of the State Budget and Control Board’s Energy Advisory Committee, the principal energy planning entity for the state, from 1992 to 2000. 

He served as Chairman of the Board of Palmetto Economic Development Corporation from 1994 to 1998 and as Vice-Chairman of the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development from 1995 to 2000. 

He served as a director of The Citizens and Southern National Bank of South Carolina, NationsBank, National Association, and National Bank of South Carolina. 

He was a member of the state advisory board of NBSC, a division of Synovus. He also served as a director of a NYSE and a NASDAQ listed textile company. 

In 1987, he served as Chairman of former Governor Carroll A. Campbell’s Task Force on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and in 1988 as Chairman of his Lease Review Committee.

He served as Chairman of former Governor Beasley’s 1995 Inaugural Committee and as Co-Chairman, along with his wife Anne, of Governor Mark Sanford’s 2003 Inaugural Committee. 

He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Wildlife Federation Endowment from 1997 to 2002, and a director of the National Wildlife Federation from 1993 to 2002. He served as a trustee of the ETV (PBS affiliate for S.C.) Endowment of South Carolina from 1992 to 2000, having served as President of the Board from 1998 to 2000. Since 2000, he served as Chairman of South Carolina Educational Communications, the production affiliate of the ETV Endowment and he was a Trustee ex officio of the Endowment. He previously served as a member of The Johns Hopkins University Department of Medicine Advisory Council and as a director of Spoleto Festival, USA. 

He was Chairman Emeritus and a life trustee of Brookgreen Gardens, America’s first outdoor sculpture garden, which exhibits the world’s largest collection of American figurative sculpture, having served as Chairman from 1997 to 2011. Since 2003, he has served as Chairman of Cordillera Preservation Foundation, which restores and preserves historic structures in the Vail Valley, Colorado. 

He also served as Chairman (2011) and Treasurer (2006 – 2012) of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Saratoga Springs, New York (TRF). He was a Director and Treasurer of the TRF of South Carolina, a division of the TRF, and sponsor of the “Second Chances” rehabilitation program at Wateree River Correctional Institution, pairing inmates and rescued end-of-career racehorses, as they come together on prison farms to care for and to save each other.

He was the Executive Producer of Corridor of Shame, a 2005 national award-winning documentary on the neglect of South Carolina’s rural public schools. 

He was also an Executive Producer of Homestretch, a video documentary primarily about the Second Chances programs, but also including a significant segment on the horrors of horse slaughter in the United States. It was through his early involvement with this Second Chances program that in 2005, he became active in the nationwide anti-horse slaughter movement. He lobbied Congress in 2005 and 2006 to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act which passed in the House of Representatives in 2006, but stalled in the United States Senate. He was instrumental in securing 100% of the South Carolina congressional delegation’s support of this legislation.

He continued his efforts in the nationwide anti-horse slaughter movement and, in 2013, began to push Congress for the passage of the Safeguard America’s Food Exports Act. 

He also was an executive producer of South Carolinians in WWII, a documentary on the experiences of South Carolina WWII veterans, as well as civilians in supporting roles and survivors of concentration camps, told in their own words, currently being aired on SCETV.

At the time of his death, Mr. Rainey was Executive Producer of A Seat at the Table, an SCETV production in progress to be released nationally on PBS in the fall of 2015, making the case for moving beyond integration to the reconciliation of African-Americans and whites in America.

He was Finance Chairman from 1999 to 2000 of NO LOTTERY 2000, the principal grass roots organization unsuccessfully opposing a South Carolina Constitutional Amendment to allow a state-run lottery intended to benefit public education. 

From 1985 to 1990, he was chief fundraiser for the erection of the South Carolina Vietnam Monument in South Carolina Memorial Park in Columbia. In 2002, he raised funds to build the South Carolina World War I “Doughboy” Monument. At his passing, he was the principal fundraiser for a War Dog Memorial to be installed in the park with a planned dedication for Veteran’s Day, 2015. 

From 1994 to 2000, he was a leader in molding and mobilizing public and political support that ultimately resulted in a successful legislative compromise to relocate the Confederate Battle Flag from a place of sovereignty atop the South Carolina Capitol dome to a place of historical significance next to the Monument to the Confederate Dead on the State Capital grounds. 

He was fundraising committee chairman of the South Carolina African-American History Monument Commission from 1998 to 2001 and raised over $1.1m to construct the first such monument in the nation located on the grounds of a state capital. 

From 2006 to 2014, he was a Director of the Palmetto Institute, an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit research and educational organization, the mission of which is to create a political and educational climate that will produce growth in the creation, distribution and retention of wealth for every South Carolinian. 

Appointed by President George W. Bush, he served as a member of the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point from 2006 through 2011. 

He was an Eagle Scout (1954), a former scoutmaster (1984-1986) and served as a U.S. Army infantry officer, in both staff and command assignments in the United States and Vietnam (1965-1967) attaining the rank of Captain. He received the Bronze Star for valor in Vietnam. He was a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America. 

In 1994, he was named the South Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist of the Year.

In 1995, Governor Carroll Campbell and again in 1998 Governor David Beasley awarded him the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award.

In 1998, historian Dr. Walter Edgar, cited John Rainey in South Carolina: A History, for his civic and political contributions to the state and for his “willingness to reach across the racial divide and support endeavors that would benefit all segments of South Carolina society”.

In 2002, the National Wildlife Federation honored him with its Virginia Ball Founders Award as one who epitomizes the “Founders Spirit” of volunteerism and philanthropy.

In 2004, the United Black Fund of the South Carolina Midlands honored him with its sixth annual I. DeQuincey Newman Humanitarian Award, named for the United Methodist minister, former Field Director of the S. C. Conference of NAACP Branches and the first African American elected in 1983 to the South Carolina Senate. 

In 2004, Santee Cooper honored him by naming its newest, only gas-fired and most environmentally clean 1000 mega-watt electric generating station in Anderson County, South Carolina, the John S. Rainey Generating Station in recognition of his corporate leadership and vision as chairman of the board from 1990 to 2000.

In 2005, Canine Companions for Independence, which provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities, including many Wounded Warriors, free of charge, honored him and his wife Anne with an award in recognition of their extraordinary generosity to CCI. Each year since 2007, CCI has given the Anne and John Rainey Award to a person with disabilities and his dog “For outstanding Service by a CCI Colorado Graduation Team.”

In 2007, the National Sculpture Society of New York awarded him the Herbert Adams Memorial Award for the Advancement of Sculpture. 

In 2008, Anderson University, Anderson, South Carolina awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree. 

In 2010, the Cordillera, Colorado community dedicated the “Rainey Bridge” over Squaw Creek in recognition of John and Anne Rainey’s contributions to the Cordillera Preservation Foundation. 

In recent months, Mr. Rainey joined the South Carolina Advisory Council to the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation which will construct a permanent home for the Medal of Honor collection near Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant. 

A 1962 graduate of the University of Virginia, (BA in History), where he also was a Distinguished Military Graduate from Army ROTC, he also held law degrees from the University of South Carolina (JD, 1965) and Georgetown University (LLM in Taxation, 1969). He was a graduate of the Buckley School of Public Speaking, in Camden, South Carolina (1989).

South Carolina’s senior United States Senator Lindsey Graham said: “John Rainey was one of the great business leaders of South Carolina. He shared his good fortune in support of so many worthy causes. He was a true philanthropist. John was a combat veteran who served his state and nation well. He will be missed by his many friends and loving family.”

Sixth Congressional District James E. Clyburn said in a statement upon learning of Mr. Rainey’s passing: “John Rainey was a good friend, a compassionate human being, an ardent practitioner of the Golden Rule. In short, he was one of the finest people God ever created.”

Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster said in a statement upon learning of Mr. Rainey’s passing: “John Rainey was the rarest of men, combining fearless convictions with a gentle heart. His love for his state and all her people was complete. A more generous and dedicated man cannot be found. We have lost a truly great man.” 

Former Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell, now President of the College of Charleston, said “John was a bridge builder in vision and action between partisans and adversaries. His sheer character, integrity and courage, powered by the generosity of his leadership, has helped take South Carolina to common ground. This state needs more leaders like John Rainey to help us use the divisions of the past to find the cement for a united future. He was the shining example of the benefits of the charity of understanding. I am deeply saddened by this news.”

State President of the South Carolina Branches of the NAACP Dr. Lonnie Randolph, Jr. said “John Rainey was a fighter for civil rights and educational opportunities and gave his all trying to bring us together. At times like this, I recall Dr. Martin Luther King’s phrase for people of John Rainey’s courage and integrity. He called them “drum majors for justice,” not just for some but for all. I cannot imagine South Carolina without him.”

Mr. Rainey’s 40 year colleague in public television and radio Elaine Freeman said: “A recent Columbia weekly published a cover story on John and called him ‘Citizen Rainey’ which was a most appropriate title for a person so well read in history and well versed in government. He used his considerable intellect and energy to confront the civic world and the world at large, to lead and transform every endeavor he touched, leaving a legacy beyond his generation and native state. He left his mark in public broadcasting underwriting and producing documentaries which we will treasure for years to come. ”

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said: “John Rainey was an extraordinary, compassionate and visionary South Carolinian. His leadership helped advance the state he loved in so many ways. He made extraordinary contributions to the arts on the boards of Spoleto Festival USA and Brookgreen Gardens and to social justice and racial reconciliation. His death is a tremendous and painful loss to South Carolina.”

John Stringer Rainey was born in Anderson on October 9, 1941, the son of the late John Faulkner Rainey, M.D. and Caroline (Callie) Stringer Rainey. He is survived by his wife, Anne Edens Rainey, of the home, daughter Catherine de Veaux Rainey of London, England, son John Stringer Rainey, Jr. (Deborah) of Concord, Massachusetts, sisters Nancy Rainey Crowley of Spartanburg and Mary Rainey Belser (Clinch) of Columbia and brother Robert McElwee Rainey (Lou) of Anderson.

John and Anne attended Grace Episcopal Church in Camden. Kornegay Funeral Home in Camden is assisting the family. 

John Rainey requested that he be remembered as an Episcopalian by choice, an American by birth, and a Southerner by the grace of God.

A private burial service was held Sunday, March 15, 2015, at All Saints, Pawleys Island. 

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, March 17 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Columbia, SC at 4:00 PM. The Reverend James Barnhill will officiate and he will be assisted by The Very Reverend Timothy Jones and Reverend Canon Charles Davis, Jr. followed by a reception in Satterlee Hall. The family requests that flowers be omitted. Memorials may be sent to Grace Episcopal Church Memorial Fund, 1315 Lyttleton Street, Camden, SC 29020, Trinity Foundation, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 1100 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 29201, Brookgreen Gardens. P.O. Box 3368, Pawleys Island, SC 29585, War Dog Memorial 1320 Main Street, Suite 800, Columbia, SC 29202, Palmetto Conservation Foundation, 722 King Street, Columbia, SC 29205, and SC ETV Endowment, 401 E. Kennedy St., Suite B-1, Spartanburg, SC 29302.

Kornegay Funeral Home, Camden Chapel is handling the arrangements.

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