In Her Words
Candid profiles of strength told by the women of Northbridge
Throughout the month of March we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.
Lorraine's Story (Resident of Laurelwood at The Pinehills) as told by her daughter, Susan Galler O'Brien.
Lorraine Mae Donahue was born on May 11, 1932 in Worcester, Massachusetts to an Irish father, John Francis Donahue and Swedish mother, Signey Anne Quist. She was the youngest of the 3 Donahue girls, and grew up in a predominately Swedish neighborhood, surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins.
After graduating from Worcester South High School in June of 1950, she chose the unconventional path of music and singing against the wishes of her mother who hoped that she would either follow her sisters into nursing or become a school teacher. Perhaps it was her jovial father’s tales of the Vaudeville circuit or her own sense of wanderlust and desire for glamour that lead her to Boston to pursue a career in music. While studying at the New England Conservatory of Music and taking private voice lessons, she supported herself by singing in church and civic venues and in theatre productions of Show Boat, Carousel and Anything Goes on Cape Cod and the Music Circus in Cohasset, MA.
In 1954 she moved to New York City where she auditioned for and won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts (which today would be akin to winning on The Voice or American Idol). Arthur Godfrey was a predecessor of Johnny Carson, and was instrumental in discovering and cultivating new talent. He hosted several programs and winners of the talent scouts then went on to appear on his weekly variety program. Later that year she met and married a young Marine Corp Lieutenant, Albert Galler, and set up housekeeping in New York. After her appearance with Arthur Godfrey, Lorraine was selected to join the cast of a popular weekly television program, the Voice of Firestone. The creation of Idabelle Smith Firestone, art patron and wife of Firestone company founder, Harvey, the program showcased classical music and featured well known opera stars performing in vignettes with the show’s cast members. Robert Merrill and Risë Stevens of the Metropolitan were among a few of the weekly guest hosts.
When not in production for the program, Lorraine was the lone female voice in a musical quartet called The Knickerbockers, that toured the midwest and southern college and club circuit, before retiring in 1958 to raise a family.
Her last foray into music was in 1983 as a member of the New England Conservatory Alumni Choir which performed with the Boston Pops during its annual christmas concert under the direction of John Williams.
Her love of music and art stayed with her throughout her life and was passed on to her 3 children and 9 grandchildren, one of which, has inherited her love of singing and theatre. Grandson, Scott, age 21, was a member of the Massachusetts All State Chorus and performed Mozart’s Requiem with the Plymouth Philharmonic and The Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared in the Hanover Theatre of Performing Arts productions of Mary Poppins and Anything Goes!
While performing took Lorraine on many wonderful travels, she also saw the United States when she drove a motor coach around the USA.
Lorraine continues to enjoy her love of music while living at Laurelwood at The Pinehills and is also involved in art classes and discussion groups.