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Death in our diocesan family: Edith C. "Edie" Simonelli

Votive candles

Edie SimonelliWith sadness we share the news of the death of Edith C. "Edie" Simonelli on March 4, 2019 – her 84th birthday. Edie was a regular and reliable volunteer at Episcopal House, supporting the work of diocesan staff members by efficiently and cheerfully stuffing envelopes, assembling event name tags and similar tasks.

Born and raised in Red Bank, Edie graduated high school at Villa Walsh in Morristown and later attended Niagara University in Lewiston, NY where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English. She put that degree and new-found knowledge to good use by teaching English for many years, most recently at the Academy of Holy Angels in Demarest.

The love of Edie’s life was her beloved husband J. Joseph Simonelli. They met at a dinner party and knew rather quickly that they would spend their life together. They married in July 1973 at our Lady of Pompei RC Church in Paterson, and shortly afterwards moved into a newly-built home in Totowa which Joe designed and where Edie remained to the present.

It’s interesting to note that Edie chose to forgo a traditional engagement ring, opting to receive a baby grand piano instead. This was a wise choice, as she much preferred playing her beautiful piano to wearing a showy ring. She truly was a master pianist who also taught the instrument for many years. Never having much regard for Mozart, Edie especially enjoyed playing the beautiful compositions of Debussy and Tchaikovsky.

Edie had a wide array of interests in addition to the piano. A voracious reader, she also loved cooking and baking for her family, and gardening. Her dream of washing dishes with a view of the ocean was realized with the purchase of a home right on the beach in Seaside Park. Her various dogs over the years, including Casey, McHugh, Brandy, Kubuki, and her present pup – Cara Mia, a Rat-Cha (Rat Terrier-Chihuahua mix) that she rescued from a shelter – were a source of great enjoyment and love.

Edie’s greatest love, of course, was for her family. Her grandchildren gave her so much joy, and she would always do whatever it took to stay in touch with each of them. She even learned how to Facetime on an Apple iPad so that she could talk “in person” with her granddaughter Marissa in Switzerland. Edie’s home was the go-to destination for all the major holidays. Even in her later years she remained young at heart, always preferring to drive a sleek car like an Acura or Lexus over what she referred to as “an old lady car.” She drove until a broken wrist caused her to reluctantly rely on Uber or Lyft, first asking her grandchildren which service they preferred. Within the past year, she also got her first iPhone and was texting and sending images in no time.

Edie was the epitome of a Christian woman and sincere servant of the Lord. While home in Totowa, she was a faithful parishioner of Our Lady of the Valley Church in Wayne and, when down at her shore house in Seaside Park, she regularly participated in the parish life of St. Catharine of Siena Church. After retiring from teaching, her work for the Lord was just beginning. In addition to volunteering at Episcopal House, she also volunteered at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Wayne, and as a hospice worker. It was only her declining health which hospitalized her this past January that caused her to stop volunteering. Her hospitalization was fittingly at St. Joseph’s in Wayne, where the experience was a sort of homecoming, as she was ministered to by so many who knew her for so many years.

If you were to ask her family and friends to share words which would describe Edie, the list would be extensive. Words that came to mind include, accepting (of any race or religion), committed, loving, a friend to many, compassionate, understanding, generous, sometimes a bit feisty, fiercely independent, outspoken, not nosey – but certainly interested, and never done learning.  And she gave everyone she spoke with her undivided attention. She will be missed for these virtues and the way she remained involved in so many people’s lives. Many referred to Edie as “Mom-Mom” because she was just that – a mother figure to countless souls.

Edie was predeceased by her husband of 18 years, J. Joseph Simonelli, and her sister, Josephine White. She is survived by her sons John Simonelli, and Dr. Paul Simonelli and wife Marissa; her grandchildren Marissa Simonelli and husband Jon Mesagaes, Erika Simonelli and husband Dan Gallagner, Joseph Simonelli and Jon Paul Simonelli; and her sister, Sister Carmela Caizza.

Condolences may be sent to John Simonelli at 451 East 39th Street, Paterson, NJ 07504.

Edie's funeral will be held Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at the Chapel at Villa Walsh, 455 Western Avenue in Morristown. Visitation is 2-4 PM, with a Funeral Mass at 4 PM and a repast immediately following the Mass. 
In lieu of flowers, her family requests donations in in Edie’s name to the Religious Sisters Filippini (Villa Walsh, 455 Western Avenue. Morristown, NJ 07960, or the Dr. Tom Dooley Foundation (online only at

God, our Father, we thank you that you have made each of us in your own image, and given us gifts and talents with which to serve you. We thank you for Edie, the time we shared with her, the good we saw in her, the love we received from her. Now give us strength and courage, to leave her in your care, confident in your promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.