Lorinda Roland | Passages

In 1987 a mighty wind descended upon Orcas Island in the form of our cherished friend, Lorinda Roland, who sadly left us at 9:25 p.m. on the 31st of August, passing peacefully in her sleep. Talented sculptor, protector of animals, champion of the environment, and a force to be reckoned with, she seized the day and forged her place in the island community.

Lorinda also made her place in our hearts, becoming a dear friend and Olga neighbor to us during our two years on Orcas. Never at a loss for words, her outspoken discourse could raise the bar on debate to new and provocative levels. But her keen mind, thoughtful heart, boundless courage and loyalty always drew the admiration and affection of those who knew her well.

Those qualities of constancy, bravery, and intelligence were, thankfully, with her to the end of her exceptional life. Shortly before what she thought was going to be her passing, she called us to say goodbye. Lorinda was astonishing – she was given weeks to live but survived two years. Her mind was keen to the end, but her body lost its courageous battle with cancer.

In the many conversations we had, Lorinda always spoke with heartfelt thanks and admiration for her two primary caregivers, Tina Roye and Lori Pollard Oaks who helped her in so many ways. Tina was with Lorinda until she passed peacefully in her sleep at 9:25 pm on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. Lorinda spoke with gratitude of Dave Moeller, who stepped in when needed, so she could remain on her beloved Orcas Island. She recalled with great affection the many others who helped her on this final journey. Neighbors who baked lemon bread (her favorite) and friends who planted bulbs in her garden. Lorinda truly thought she would not live to see the blooms, but she did, twice no less! She was granted a special gift of additional time and those blossoms filled her with joy. She spoke with thanks to those who brought her firewood, mowed her property, brought her mail and groceries — all the good Orcas folks who lent a hand and opened their hearts.

Lorinda Roland was born in 1938 in a private home in Manhattan. Her parents were two of the most prominent film stars of the day, Constance Bennett and Gilbert Roland. The Bennett family was one of the royal families of stage and screen. Her mother was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood in the 1930s. Her father, Gilbert Roland, was a high-powered star, twice nominated for a Golden Globe and later inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Lorinda grew up on both east and west coasts. At the age of 11, she attended boarding school in Switzerland and was soon speaking French fluently. She attended high school in Washington, D.C. and graduated from the prestigious Holton-Arms School, in Bethesda, Maryland. Discussions at the family dinner table were lively. Senator Joe McCarthy was a close friend to her mother, and at the age of 16, Lorinda was thought to be the youngest attendee at the infamous McCarthy Hearings. McCarthy himself arranged for her to attend.

Lorinda’s interest in sculpting materialized during her college years. She attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculptor, followed by studies at the Art Students League and Finch College in Manhattan. While attending Finch College, she spent every afternoon visiting art galleries. But she didn’t want to just study art, she wanted to create it. One afternoon she went to an art supply store, and because she remembered always playing with clay as a child, she bought some clay. “The next thing I knew my room was full of art pieces sculpted by me, “she recalled. Her mother supported her interest in art and while performing in a play in Chicago, Constance learned of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Lorinda went out to visit the school with her stepfather and was accepted. She attended Cranbrook for two years, receiving her BFA in 1960. In 1961 she won the Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant and in 1963 the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship award – an amazing start to her successful career.

Much of her work reflects her love of animals, especially horses. She donated countless hours of work and love to wildlife rehabilitation. Lorinda had her own studio in Manhattan but decided to move back to Los Angeles after visiting with her father. She specialized in the use of gold, silver, Dutch leaf, bronze and copper. Her exhibits spanned museums and private collections in New York, Orcas Island, Florida and Hollywood, primarily during the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1984 tragedy struck when her life partner was killed in a motorcycle crash. After his death, Lorinda visited a friend in Seattle which included a trip to Orcas Island in November 1986. The following February she moved to the island, forever her home and always in her heart.

Lorinda is survived by her sister Gyl Roland. Her brother, Peter Bennett Plant, predeceased her. It was our honor to know and love her. Donations in her memory can be made to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, PO Box 391, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 or https://wolfhollowwildlife.org/contact-us/