Dr. Lee Dian Rainey

September 29, 1948 to October 17, 2021


It is with great sadness that the family of Dr. Lee Dian Rainey announces her peaceful passing at the Health Sciences Centre, in St. John’s Newfoundland on Sunday, October 17, 2021.

Dr. Rainey was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario and received her PhD from the University of Toronto. Trained in Classical Chinese Language and Philosophy, Dr. Rainey joined the Department of Religious Studies at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in 1990, and was a passionate professor of Asian Studies until her death.

Lee taught courses on religious traditions of China and Japan, the Mandarin language, offered senior seminars on the classical texts of Confucian and Daoist traditions, and also taught on Buddhism, Women in Asian Religions, and contemporary Chinese religion, politics, and culture.

She was a sought-after expert on Chinese thought and was an invited contributor to a number of books. At the invitation of publisher Wiley-Blackwell, Lee authored “Confucius and Confucianism: The Essentials (2010)” and “Decoding Dao: Reading the Dao De Jing and the Zhuangzi (2014)”.

Lee loved Chinese culture, its history, languages, and philosophy. She loved Chinese cuisine, visual arts and aesthetics and the many friendships she maintained in Chinese communities in Taiwan, People’s Republic of China, and other parts of the world.

Lee’s most enduring legacy will be as a passionate friend and mentor to her many students. The most fitting tribute to our beloved cousin can be found in the words of one of her students:

“They say a good teacher can change the world…Lee changed my life. I could write for hours about the conversations that brought me from a lost child into the confident person I am proud to be today. I will never be able to say how much she meant to me but I’ll tell the stories and retell the lessons….You were a dragon”.

Predeceased by her parents, William and Phyllis (MacGregor) Rainey and cousin Wallace Jank, Venezuela, S.A.

Lee is survived by her loving Ontario cousins: Bonnie Laurie, Amary and Wallis Stagg, Ottawa; Patricia Konkle, (Ray) Jordan Station; Laurie Konkle (Robert) and Alex Bruce, Stoney Creek; Scott Konkle (Jennifer), Eben, Jared and Raya, Kitchener; Jim Lawrie, St. Catharines and many loving friends and students in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and around the world.

Lee’s family would like to specially thank her dear friends who selflessly and compassionately cared for Lee during her final months.

Gone too soon, she will never be forgotten.


Cremation has taken place. With the kind assistance of the Religious Studies Department of MUN there will be a memorial service in the spring of 2022. All are welcome to attend, taking current Covid rules into consideration. Check MUN’s Religious Studies Department for: date, place, and time.





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Dear Dr Rainey, I hope you’re having fun somewhere having afternoon tea with Zhuangzi. The recollections of your life story continue to inspire me, even today. Even as brief as my time was with you as a student – I will borrow a phrase from Hebrew tradition: Your memory is a blessing.

I never got the chance to take one of the courses that Dr. Rainey taught until earlier in 2021, however it was one of the greatest courses I remember taking during my time at MUN. I will always remember my time knowing her, though it was brief, very fondly, as she was a bright and exuberant individual.

Dr. Rainey was a life-changing teacher, and I’m so grateful to have learned from her.

Dr. Rainey was my favourite professor when I was at MUN she taught me so much about Chinese language and culture, and I fell in love with it. I will miss her dearly and I was so proud to have known her when she was alive. Rest in peace 老师

I was so fortunate to have Dr. Rainey as a professor for a number of courses. She was an amazing lecturer, a kind person, and someone who valued and fostered critical thought. I am sorry to hear of her passing and hope those who loved her find solace in happy memories of her, as I will.

Thank you Carnell’s Funeral Home for doing such a great job at presenting Lee’s obituary. She will be greatly missed my many. Her legacy will live on through her students, friends and relatives.