Ray St. Louis of Alachua, Florida, was born on January 24, 1949, to Paul and Lorraine St. Louis, and raised in Roseville, Minnesota. Ray was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Andre St. Louis; and his partner, Jennifer Lutz. Ray is survived by six siblings, three stepchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
After attending Catholic grade schools, Ray entered Nazareth Hall Seminary in the ninth grade and began to build what would become lifelong friendships with his classmates. In 1967, Ray graduated second in his class. He completed two years of college at St. Thomas University; then transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he was influenced by the turmoil of the 1960's and became what he described as "a flaming liberal." His passion for liberal causes and desire to leave the world a better place influenced his future life and career.
An artist and a performer, Ray created the Powderhorn Puppet Theater, which founded the first annual May Day Parade in South Minneapolis. After several years of hard work and the Theater's change of name to "Heart of the Beast," Ray wanted to expand his boundaries. He left Minnesota for a life on the road and found his niche with Renaissance festivals. In 2006, Ray published his first novel, The Road Dog Diary, a semi-autobiographical account of his first 30 years in the Renaissance festival circuit, first as an entertainer and later as the owner of a rides and games business. In his own words, Ray wrote:
"There was a time when the Renaissance festival circuit was a little rough around the edges. Those of us who were around in those formative years made it up as we went. All things were possible. We--participants and management alike--were creating a national network of fairs. A lot of creativity and initiative were called for. If you had a good idea for a new act or business or product, you could generally get some fair owner to let you make it happen. In those early days, niches were constantly being discovered and quickly filled.
"From the beginning of this project, my goal was to capture the spirit of those early times. That, and to write a good story; which is exactly what The Road Dog Diary is--a story."
During Ray's life on the road, he made hundreds of friends among the performers, artists, and workers at Renaissance festivals around the country. They formed special bonds over the years and became a close "Rennie family."
In August 2022, Ray was fighting cancer at his home in Alachua, Florida when his beloved partner of 22 years, Jennifer Lutz, passed away. Jennifer was also his primary caregiver; so Ray returned to Minnesota for his ongoing medical care. Ray died peacefully on March 12, 2023, surrounded by his family and friends.
Ray's last wishes were to have his ashes returned to Florida to be buried with Jennifer's ashes. A celebration of life will be planned and sponsored by Jennifer's daughter, Andre, at Ray's home in Alachua later this year where their Rennie family will shower them both with love.