Rae Ellen Hanewald Harsch

December 9, 1939 - April 23, 2012

Obituary & Service Info

Rae Ellen Hanewald Harsch


Rae Ellen Hanewald Harsch died on Monday morning at her home in Savannah, GA, in the company of her daughter Christiana.

Rae was born December 9, 1939 to Julius and Paula Hanewald in Plainfield N.J. She attended the Hartridge School, class of 1957, and graduated from Bennington College in Vermont in 1961. It was Bennington’s liberal arts education that first fostered her lifelong love of the arts and penchant for community service.

Among her many early accomplishments, Rae was associate editor of The Georgetowner in Washington, D.C. She wrote for the Voice of America during the height of the cold war, and later worked in advertising in Providence R.I. before returning to New Jersey to head her family’s interests. Rae raised her two children, Joseph Close Harsch II and Christiana Wood Harsch, in New Jersey to be close to her parents.

Rae travelled throughout her life. She lived in Japan and London, travelled extensively throughout Europe, she enjoyed visiting her sister Susan in Paris, and had a special interest in the Caribbean and Bahamas’ Islands. She was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time on the water, yachting up and down the East Coast and the islands. Block Island, Hilton Head, the Florida Keys, Nassau, and Fort Lauderdale were frequent stops

In 1984, Rae left New Jersey intent on reestablishing herself and the family in the South, a long time passion of hers. After considering many locations, Rae fell in love with Savannah's charm and that made all the difference. She truly loved Savannah. Rae had a natural talent for enhancing historic homes and lived in several over the years. The Hartridge House, which was previously owned by the same family that started the school she attended in Plainfield NJ, was her first residence in Savannah. She went on to purchase and restore several other properties in the historic district.

One of her great loves was theatre and she joined the City Lights Theatre Company serving as board member, actress, playwright, and director for over 25 years. Rae appeared in many plays and starred in the Savannah Shakespeare festival production of Twelfth Night. She also performed in a number of plays with her son Joseph including Man of La Mancha and Night of the Iguana. She was a talented playwright and wrote a number of plays that took first place in the Savannah Playwright’s festival competition. She was also a gifted painter, a voracious reader, active in Emmaus House, Radio Reading for the Blind, and the Historic Savannah Foundation. She was a long time member of Christ Church, she served as chairman and board member for the Savannah Tour of Homes, and participated in many other community efforts.

Rae loved a good party. With her activities in theatre and historic Savannah, and there were many opportunities. Her house was frequently lit past midnight with social gatherings of friends, cast members, family, and others. It was this variety in social circles that kept her vibrant throughout her later years.

Few are blessed with such a full and rich life.

Rae was preceded in death by her parents and her brother Julius III. She is survived by her children, Joseph and his wife Sonja, Christiana and her finance Ravi Scher, by her sister Susan Hanewald, niece Ellen, nephew Jason, and by her two grandsons Kyle Harsch and Jay C. Harsch. The family also wishes to thank Rae's friends Jim and Jody Holt for their friendship, devotion, and compassion towards Rae, as well as the numerous caregivers. It is greatly appreciated. She will be deeply missed.

A service will be held on Saturday April 28th at Christ Church in Savannah, GA at 11, immediately followed by a reception at the home of her very dear friend Alvin Neely. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Island Hospice or the. Humane Society for Greater Savannah

Please visit our Tribute Wall to share your thoughts and photos with the Rae Ellen Hanewald Harsch family.

Bonaventure Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements 335-8506

Service DetailsService Details

Saturday, April 28th, 2012
11:00 A.M.
Lower Chapel of Christ Church
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