The South Carolina Arts Commission family is mourning the loss of our friend and colleague Marion Draine, who passed away Oct. 10.
Marion retired from the Arts Commission in 2006 after working 26 years with the agency. Her hand prints are all over many of the programs we operate today. She was a forceful presence during an exciting period of growth for this agency and the arts across the state.
CHARLESTON – Marion Gerard Draine, an ardent advocate for the arts in South Carolina who spent more than two decades in the front ranks of the S.C. Arts Commission, died Friday morning at her home in Charleston with members of her family by her side. After early careers as an elementary school teacher, television personality, and journalist, it was the visual and performing arts that became her passion. Marion joined the Arts Commission in 1980 and became known around the state, particularly in the Lowcountry, for her dynamic personality and enthusiastic work on behalf of her arts constituents. For 26 years she was a charmingly persistent, dedicated, compassionate member of the Arts Commission staff, which held her in the highest regard. As a Regional Arts Coordinator, her multiple duties included directing such programs as Cultural Visions in Rural Communities, the Writers Forum, Arts in Motion, Artists in Schools, Visiting Artists, and the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts. She was the host director of two national conferences that received high praise from arts administrators from around the country. When she retired, her colleagues pooled their personal resources to honor her with “The Week of Marion.” The imaginative events culminated on her last day on the job with a “rose parade.” The staff lined a 75-foot hallway leading to the conference room, each presenting her with a rose as she walked down a pathway covered in rose petals. As one staff member put it: “It was an exit fit for a queen.” Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on August 11, 1932 to Jule McDonald Gerard and Gerard Joseph Gerard, Marion moved to Charleston when she was a teenager. A graduate of Bishop England High School and the College of Charleston, she became a television personality known as “Miss Marion” of the syndicated “Romper Room” children’s program. She performed first in Charleston and traveled with the program nationwide for a year. She also worked for several years as a features reporter for the Charleston News and Courier. But her primary focus in earlier years was public school education. She taught in elementary schools including the U.S. Air Force Dependent School system in Wiesbaden, Germany; as well as schools in Charleston and Columbia, Hempstead Township in New York, and Chicago. Her 37 years of state service included community coordinator for the University of South Carolina’s Department of Education Model Schools Project. Her civic involvement in Columbia encompassed service on the Board of Directors of the Columbia Lyric Opera, the Columbia Women’s Symphony Association, and as a volunteer at Town Theater. Her passion for the arts remained undiminished after she retired. When art galleries had openings, when plays and concerts were performed, and when St. Michael’s church bells rang in the opening of Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto, she was there. And when her three granddaughters played their violins, their number one fan was almost always in the audience. Several years ago, Marion and her husband of 54 years, retired attorney Francis T. Draine, moved back to Charleston. Marion’s determined support of the arts continued to hold fast even after she was diagnosed with breast-cancer and until shortly before her death. In addition to her husband, Marion is survived by two daughters, Lisa Marie Draine (Joel Schectman) of Charlottesville, VA and Jennifer Draine Gable (Wayne) of Mount Pleasant, SC; two sons, Kevin Gerard Draine (Ann) of New York City, NY and Paul Joseph Draine of Bucks County, PA. Survivors also include four grandchildren, Rebecca and Sophie Schectman and Elaina and William Gable. Her parents and her sister, Jane, predeceased her. Marion’s life will be celebrated at St. Johannes Lutheran Church, 48 Hasell Street, Charleston, SC on Saturday, October 18, 2014, at noon. Visitation will be at 11 a.m. October 18, 2014 in the church’s Gatch Hall, 43 Anson Street, before the service. Burial will be private. Donations in memory of Marion may be made to the arts organization of your choice or to the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph; P.O. Box 1541; Charlottesville, VA 22902. Arrangements by J. HENRY STUHR, INC., DOWNTOWN CHAPEL. A memorial message may be sent to the family by visiting our website at www.jhenrystuhr.com.