Ray Aranha
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RAY ARANHA beloved husband, father and grandfather and consummate playwright, actor and director died on October 9, 2011at the age of 72. He was born on May 1, 1939, in Miami, Florida. He became interested in drama in the fifth grade, and pursued his dream with passion and hard work throughout his life. He earned a B.A. in drama from Florida A&M University in 1961, studying summers with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. With the FAMU Playmakers, he toured nine African countries as part of President Eisenhower's International Cultural Exchange Program in 1958; meeting Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia during this tour was a highlight he always remembered. After graduation, he taught drama at Mays High School and then worked as a Dade County, Florida juvenile probation officer. Ray continued to teach, nurture and inspire young people throughout his life. In 1968, determined to pursue a full time career in professional theater, Ray moved to New York City. For the next forty-two years, he worked as professional actor, playwright and director in theater, film and television. He was a proud member of three unions - Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He moved to Stamford in 1976. Over four decades, he took a wide array of roles, from the title characters in classics such as Othello, Macbeth, and Athol Fugard's Master Harold And The Boys, to creating new characters at theaters around the country, including the Yale Repertory Theatre, Playwrights' Horizons, the Negro Ensemble Company, Actors' Theatre of Louisville, and many others, large and small. Ray appeared in the original Broadway cast of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play Fences. He originated the role of Jim Bono in 1985 with the first Fences company at Yale University and played that part throughout the show's Los Angeles mounting and Broadway run. He also created the role of Newt Lee in Parade, the Tony Award-winning Broadway Musical/Drama at the Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 1998 and played that role in a national tour in 2000. Ray's singing voice can be heard on the original cast recording. Ray also worked in film, playing featured roles in City Hall (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995) and City of Hope (1990). He was a starring player in the ABC television series Married People which aired in the 1990-91 season and in the FOX television series The Heights which aired in the 1992-93 season. He made numerous appearances in a variety of other television series, including Law and Order, Ed, and New York Undercover. Perhaps Ray's greatest love was the creation of new plays. His play My Sister, My Sister was first produced at the Hartford Stage Company and then on Broadway in 1974, to critical acclaim. The play earned a Drama Desk Award and continues to be performed by theater companies across the country. Other plays include The Estate, which premiered at the Hartford Stage Company in 1976, and Remington which premiered at the Actors' Theatre of Louisville in 1980. Two of his plays were developed at Eugene O'Neill Theatre Centre: SnowPressings in 1980 which was then produced at Virginia Tech University in 1981; and Sons and Fathers of Sons in 1981 which was then produced by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1983. Ray wrote many other plays, and was always either writing, researching or thinking about future works. He often spoke of his as yet unproduced plays as "lined up and waiting their turns." In culmination of his life's work in theater, Ray founded the professional nonprofit theatrical producing entity Prometheus' Fire in 2003. Dedicated to producing new plays, Ray said that Prometheus' Fire was "inspired by the spirit of Prometheus, who defied the rules and powers of the gods and gave the fire of creation to mankind." Although many of Ray's plays explore the black experience, he was interested primarily in the human experience. Ray's mission with Prometheus' Fire was to offer new and unheard artists the opportunity to have their work professionally developed and produced with excellence, regardless of subject matter, race or controversy. He knew from personal experience that the perceived commercial viability of a piece too often dictated whether it would be performed, and he felt an urgent need to provide an open forum for new and challenging work. Using the knowledge and contacts from his long life in the theater, and giving unstintingly of his own time, resources and energy, he gathered a diverse group of professional actors, writers, musicians and production artists to work on these new plays. As those who participated in the Prometheus' Fire process can testify, he demanded much of others, but never more than he demanded of himself. The result over seven seasons was the production of dozens of new plays, by Ray and by others, as well as a Best Play Series showcasing great works not often produced. Shows were produced at the Stamford Center for the Arts, the Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport, the Stratford Theatre, and most recently at St. Francis Church in Stamford. He particularly enjoyed working with young people on these projects, and always encouraged them to make the sacrifices necessary to follow their dreams. Anyone who wishes to hold close what was important to Ray should see and support the development of new plays. The National Black Theatre Festival honored Ray with its Living Legend Award in July 2007, and Ray received a Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Pioneer Award in 2009 for Innovation in Writing, Acting and Directing for the Black Theatre. Ray loved his family as well as his work. He met his wife, Jean Mills Aranha, then a theatrical costumer (now an attorney with Connecticut Legal Services) at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C. in 1979. She was immediately captivated by his famous smile, and they journeyed together for the next thirty-two years, marrying in 1985. Although fiercely dedicated to his work, Ray made family events, including his children's Little League games, performances and school conferences a priority, and took great joy in his grandchildren. He is survived by his son, Delaine Aranha, a student at Rogers International School; his son Marc Aranha, daughter-in-law Judy Chiu, and granddaughter Kya Aranha; daughter Teri Pauline Aranha Tate, son-in-law Daniel Tate, and grandchildren Jasmine and Malcolm Tate; his mother, Thelma Curry; siblings Sharon Washington (James), Ronald Devoe, Kelsey Devoe and Sylvia Vanover (Willie); his aunt Helen Holston (Barnette); and many other family members, friends and colleagues in the entertainment industry. He was the son of the late Charles Douglass Aranha. Ray was a longtime member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Stamford. He wrote an original script for the church's annual Christmas Show, and directed the show for two years. A true Renaissance man, Ray shared a passion for card, board and computer games with his sons. He was also an avid - and long-suffering - New York Mets and Jets fan. He was never interested in seeing an exciting close game; he much preferred relaxing and watching his team in an overwhelming victory. Wherever he went and whatever he did, he always wore his signature cap. In lieu of flowers, Ray requested contributions in his memory to help actors in need at The Actors' Fund (729 Seventh Ave. 10th Fl., New York, NY 10019) or to make college a reality for young people at the United Negro College Fund (8260 Willow Oakes Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 10444, Fairfax, VA 22031-8044). The family will meet friends at the Leo P. Gallagher and Sons Funeral Home at 2900 Summer St., Stamford, Connecticut, from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 22. Prayers will be offered there at 6:30 p.m. There will be a funeral service at St. John's Episcopal Church, 62

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Published in The Advocate on Oct. 16, 2011.
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Memories & Condolences
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27 entries
April 29, 2012
My condolences to the Aranha Family. Ray was an inspiration and a Mentor to so many young people. He is missed but he has given us the tools to carry on. Larry Floyd Actor/Writer/Producer NYC
Larry Floyd
November 11, 2011
I am very saddened to hear of Ray's passing. It has been some time since we worked together, but I will never forget his warmth, compassion, and dedication to our work together in The Estate at the Hartford Stage Company many, years ago. Farewell, beloved friend – Geddeth Smith
November 5, 2011
Time and your faith in God will help you heal. Your blessing will be in the healing, just allow God to be God.
Richard Smith
October 31, 2011
Mr. Arahna's profound memory will forever linger on in the hearts and minds of former students at Mays High School in Goulds, Florida. Vicariously we all went to Hollywood and became "Stars!" He was a dedicated, talented and "One of a Kind." With sincere condolences and sympathy. Gwen McKay, Vice President of the Mays High School Alumni Association
Gwen McKay
October 29, 2011
So sorry to hear of Mr. Aranha's passing. I'll continue to keep your family in prayer. Shirley Thompson Lanier, Mays High School, class of 1961.
October 29, 2011
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Goria Montgomery
October 28, 2011
Hello Jean:

I would like to express my sincere condolences to you in the recent loss of your beloved husband, Ray. He was my "Drama Coach" at Mays High School in Goulds, Florida in 1962. I had the fortune of being in a play he directed namely, "Get That Thunderbird," in which we had to perform at 13 different schools. Also, seeing him on "Law & Order" was exciting. I have a picture of you and he in my scrapbook. We live life, we can expect death, but our Master will meet us at the Judgement Seat, and I'm sure God has cradled Ray in HIS loving arms.

Stay strong and a great BIG HELLO to your son.

Sincerely,
Ruby Emanuel Burchette
Ruby Burchette
October 27, 2011
I have not seen Ray for years but always think of him warmly. I was the character SueBelle in one of his first plays. A play that forever changed my professional and creative life. Ray knew I was grateful, but I don't think he knew to what extent his haunting, beatiful play was appreciated by me, and by many others who still tap me on the shoulder and say 'I saw you in that really great play - My Sister, My Sister.
Seret Scott
October 21, 2011
Jean, may the comfort and counsel you have given so many others be returned to you and your family now and in the difficult days ahead.
Paula Rabita
October 20, 2011
Terri, we were saddened to hear about the passing of your father. We hope and pray that you and your family will have strength due of loss.
Cecil & Julie Nedd III
October 20, 2011
I send my condolences to your family. I once work with Teri Tate at American Express in Ft Lauderdale for a long time. She is such a wonderful spirit filled woman and I feel like I knew you, she is always talking about her dad and family brother too, she spoke many times of your family. Continue to lean on our Savior, he will be there for you all.
Lorna
October 19, 2011
I send my condolences to your family. I work with Sharon Washington at the health department i n Athens, GA. She is such a wonderful spirit filled woman and I feel like I knew her brother too, she spoke many times of your family. Continue to lean on our Savior, he will be there for you all.
Brenda Orsley
Brenda Orsley
October 19, 2011
Jean, I haven't seen you in years and never had the pleasure of meeting your husband, but it sounds like his was a life very well lived. My sincere sympathy to you and all the family.
Pam Martin
October 19, 2011
Luke 8:49-56 is an encouraging account to consider for your family.
October 18, 2011
Our Father, is a most wonderful man!! The inspiration and Joy that he brought to everyone's life. This we will always treasure with all our Hearts & Soul.
The Aranha family thanks you all so very deeply, in all your special thoughts and prayers, which means so much to each and everyone of us. God Bless!!!
Teri Aranha-Tate
October 18, 2011
I didn't know this fabulous man but he is so handsome and accomplished that I had to write the family and let them kow he is in my prayers. God bless you at this time of sorrow.
October 17, 2011
Dear Jean and family,
An old friend once told me, " We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having an human experience." Humanity hurts..let's think about being stardust. Love and comfort to you all,
Jane Norgren
Jane Norgren
October 17, 2011
To Mrs. Sharon Washington, Mrs. Thelma Curry and Arnha Family:

We wish to express our deepest condolences to all of you during this time of bereavement. Please know that the entire Aranha family is in our thoughts and prayers now and in the days to come. Keep looking up. GOD WILL take care of you.

Mary and Vitina McKinney
Jayme and Jacorey Bolton
Winterville, GA
October 17, 2011
Jean and family, I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Ray. I know that he will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

I have you all in my thoughts and prayers at this very sad time.

With deep sympathy,
Stefanie Kruczkiewicz (former HK&B firm)
October 17, 2011
Jean, Marc and Delaine: My condolences to you on the passing of a great man. May the Lord bless you and protect you and may the angels lift Ray to his star in the heavens. Ginny Capozi
GInny Capozi
October 17, 2011
Jean, I am so sorry to hear of Ray's passing - Stefani send me the notice.

Thinking of you at this difficult time, Rosemary Klim (formerly of HKB lawfirm)
I live in Charleston, SC now
rklim24@gmail.com
Roesmary Klim
October 17, 2011
Rest In Peace Ray! You will definitely be missed. May God continue to bless your family during this difficult time.
Bridget Hall
October 17, 2011
Marc & Family,
I am so sorry for your loss. May your memories help you through this difficult time.
Jennifer Chiappetta
Jennifer Chiappetta
October 16, 2011
Dear Jean, Marc and the Aranha family members,

My deepest and sincerest condolences on your profound loss. I am so saddened to read this. Ray, your father was a true leader and inspiration in the theatrical community. Stamford was fortunate to have him as a resident and we are all better for his talents, accomplishments and commitment to theater. May God Bless him and his loved ones on this next journey.

Sincerely,
Gloria Sinaguglia, Stamford High School
October 16, 2011
My hearfelt condolences to the entire Aranha's family.
Jean,Delaine,Marc,He's gone but not forgotten.
You have so many,many memories to remember,cherish his life.
Even though I was in his life for a short time,I do have mines also of our
times spent together,espically his
warm smile.I too will cherish those moments.
May God continue to Dwell in your lives,
and keep you comforted at this time and days to come.
My Love To All.
R.I.P. my friend & brother in Christ
Doreen Evans Harrison
Doreen Harrison
October 14, 2011
This candle is a small light giving honor to the Light of the World. May days to come find the light left by Ray shining bright in our hearts and lives.
James Washington Jr
October 14, 2011
There is a welcome releif when our performance here is done and we hear 'Well Done'. Raymond's performance is now in the presence of the Master and all is well with his soul. Blessings to family is extend during this time of celebration.
James Washington Jr
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