Claire Cloninger, prolific Christian author and songwriter, has died on August 15. She was 77 years-old. Cloninger is writer of hundreds of Christian songs including Wayne Watson's "Friend of a Wounded Heart," Paul Overstreet's "Heroes," Don Moen's "I Offer My Life" and Sandi Patty's "It's Your Song Lord." Cloninger was commissioned by the National Statue of Liberty Centennial Committee to write a new second verse for the "Star Spangled Banner," which was recorded by Sandi Patti.
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.
As a lyricist, Cloninger shared in six Dove Awards, which are given by the Gospel Music Association. 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."
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 honor.
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.