Edna Massimilla turned 100 years old last month, on March 10, 2016. Edna has been a registered songwriter with CCLI since 1995, and continues to write today. Our Intellectual Property representatives at CCLI love to correspond with her, as she personally registers her songs with us and works through all the administrative details of song ownership.
CCLI IP representative Mary O’Dea said, “Edna is always a delight to work with, and I love getting to read her poems and songs that have come across my desk over the years. One would never guess when speaking with her on the phone that this incredible woman is 100 years old! She is always so appreciative of CCLI, and it is obvious when speaking with her that Jesus is at the forefront of her life and her entire family. I also loved getting to know more of her life story when I read her book, Heaven’s Very Special Child & the Family, several years ago. She is one amazing woman!”
Edna is the widow of Rev. John Massimilla, a graduate of Fordham and St. John’s Law School. They met while Edna was a secretary in John’s law office, and they were married in 1941. They were blessed with 5 daughters, 11 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. One of Edna’s daughters, Ruth, was born with Down Syndrome and is now with Jesus. Ruth was the inspiration of many of Edna’s poems and songs, and Edna and John served together as chaplains at the Hospital for the Disabled in the State of Delaware and Pennsylvania. One of her best-known poems, “Heaven’s Very Special Child” has provided comfort for many parents of disabled children through the years.
In fact, it was “Heaven’s Very Special Child” that prompted a letter from President John F. Kennedy, and dated November 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated. “It might have been one of his last correspondences,” said Edna. President Kennedy’s letter said that he and his sister, Eunice Shriver, appreciated the poem. Shriver was involved with Special Olympics and said that she was inspired to send the poem to Kennedy after finding out that he had a mentally challenged sister.
Edna is also a volunteer for the American Bible Society and a member of the Booth Society of the Salvation Army. She has received numerous awards for her music from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and is also a writer for Salesian Missions Books.
Reflecting on her life, Edna remarked,
I could do nothing without our Lord. Together, we carry on our hopes and ambitions for the work and glory of God. And CCLI keeps me going, even at the age of 100!
Perhaps the most fitting way to close this article on this amazing lady is to quote the lyrics from one of her recent songs, “Keep Your Eyes on Jesus.”
Keep your eyes on Jesus
He will carry you through
Jesus is God’s precious Son
He will carry you through
Buy Edna’s book, Heaven’s Very Special Child & The Family