Elizabeth Claire deGravelles Cloninger, born Aug. 12, 1942, died Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 at age 77.
Claire Cloninger was an award-winning lyricist, inspirational speaker and author of numerous books. A six-time Dove Award-winner, her songs have been widely recorded by such artists as B.J. Thomas, Amy Grant and Sandi Patty.
Claire grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, the second of five children of Charles and Virginia deGravelles. She was a graduate of Lafayette High School and of the University of Louisiana Lafayette where she also received her master's degree.
She married the love of her life, Robert A. "Spike" Cloninger in 1963 and was the mother of their two sons and grandmother to their nine grandchildren. She was adored by all in her family.
From the time she was a girl, Claire had a unique sweetness of spirit that developed into a deep love of God and of other people. As a girl, she loved to sing and dance, a passion she kept until her dying day. From her father, Charlie, she learned the piano and the lyrics to every popular song of several generations. From her mother, Virginia, a psychologist who specialized in art therapy, working mainly with children, she inherited a deep empathy for others. In her presence, you were known, heard, and loved.
Another of Claire's many gifts was her creativity. She was a prolific songwriter, author and speaker who won some of contemporary Christian music's highest honors. As a lyricist, Claire shared in six Dove Awards (the Gospel Music Association's version of the Grammy). She shared musical of the year honors four times, most recently for "Grace that Amazes" in 2006. She also shared in the 1998 musical album award for "A Son! A Savior!" and shared the 1989 Dove Award for song of the year with Wayne Watson for "Friend of a Wounded Heart." She also co-wrote "Heroes," a Top 5 country hit for Paul Overstreet in 1991.
Her many books include "Making 'I Do' Last a Lifetime," "Dear Abba: Finding the Father's Heart Through Prayer," as well as several books in the bestselling "Email from God" series.
Claire and Spike lived in Fairhope, Alabama where they were faithful members of Church of the Apostles Anglican Church. Her death came after a long struggle with dementia, but she retained a keen memory for lyrics and music until the very end, continuing to dance and sing until her last day.
Claire was predeceased by her father, Charles Camille deGravelles; her mother, Virginia Wheadon deGravelles; and her sister, Mary Alix deGravelles.
Claire is survived by her husband, Robert A. "Spike" Cloninger; her sons, Curtis Arrington Cloninger and his wife, Julie Skinner Cloninger, Andrew Jennings Cloninger and his wife, Jennifer Rebecca Uplinger Cloninger; her sister, Ann deGravelles and her husband, Edward M. Norton; her brothers, Charles N. deGravelles and his wife, Angela Winder deGravelles, John W. deGravelles and his wife, Jan Shamburger deGravelles; by her grandchildren, Caroline Grace Cloninger, Jordan Arrington Cloninger, Robin Lucy Cloninger, James Henry Cloninger, Ruby Jane Cloninger, Kaylee Grace Cloninger, Andrew Robert Cloninger, Reed Charles Cloninger and Samuel Tate Cloninger.
The Cloninger family is grateful for the loving care given by Claire's additional caregivers from Your Choice Senior Care, many of whom went beyond their job and befriended her in her final years. Thanks to the wonderful clergy and lay ministers of Church of the Apostles Anglican Church and to Claire's many devoted friends.
A memorial service will be held for Claire on Saturday Aug. 24 at 10:30 a.m. at Church of the Apostles, 7159 McIntyre St., Fairhope, AL 36532.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Church of the Apostles in memory of Claire Cloninger, P.O. Box 662, Montrose, AL 36559.
Arrangements by Wolfe-Bayview Funeral Homes & Crematory Inc., 19698 Greeno Road, Fairhope, AL 36532, 251-990-7775, www.wolfefuneralhomes.com.