Joseph B. Edden

March 1, 1931September 8, 2022
Edden, Joseph Basilian, a longtime resident of Palm Coast, FL, died peacefully on Sept. 8, at age 91, in his residence at Peaceful House. Affectionally known as “Joe,” he was born in the Bronx, NY, on March 1, 1931, the first child of Margaret and Adolph Edden. They moved in 1940 to what everybody called “the country,” Rockville Centre, NY, to live in a brand new family home. Joe graduated from the parish school, St. Agnes Elementary School ’44 and then took the train every day to Brooklyn to attend Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Class of 1948, where he enjoyed the challenges and friendships of the Christian Brothers. Along with his high school activities and caddying, he also enjoyed his years of Scouting, camping out, and hiking, while earning many merit badges along the way, Joe’s father, who traveled a lot for his work as NYC Chief SEC Investigator, talked Joe into the wonders of living in California, so Joe was excited to attend Santa Clara, a Jesuit University in the Silicon Valley which claimed, “Every student at SCU has the potential to do something extraordinary. A Santa Clara education gives you more than a degree—it transforms the way you see the world and your place in it. Grounded in ethics and social justice, it empowers you to help find solutions to global problems and effect change in your own community.” So Joe met his next challenge - the Jesuits, which changed his life! After finishing freshman year at Santa Clara, and leaving all that sunshine, golf, new friends, and Jesuit influence, Joe chose to enter the Jesuit Novitiate in Poughkeepsie, NY. He began his 13 years of studies to be ordained a Jesuit priest in June 1962 at Fordham University, NY, followed by the celebration of his first Mass, at his home parish, St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre. From there, Joe taught mostly Latin at various Jesuit high schools in the NY area, especially enjoying his time at Regis High School in NYC.. He had a passion for photography, loved to visit the rifle range, enjoyed moderating different groups, and worked closely with the basketball teams. He delighted in being there for family and friends, meeting new people, performing weddings, baptisms, funerals, confessions, and comforting the bereaved and sick. He had a marvelous memory of all the saints’ lives, telling me each time I called him whose Feast Day it was and giving me the complete life story of the saint. Noting this interest and knowledge, I used to call my phone calls with him “My Homily.” After much consideration, prayer, and discussion, Joe decided to leave the Jesuits in 1973, and was laicized with the blessing of Pope Paul VI, returning to a layman’s life and renting a studio apartment in NYC. A group of friends scrubbed and cleaned and brought the necessary furnishings he needed, before enjoying a picnic lunch together in his glittering new home, which lasted a month. After pursuing a job in photography, he landed one with a firm in Westchester which forced him to give up his shiny NY apartment and move there. Visiting one of his favorite groups, The Edith Stein Guild, that he used to moderate, he met the love of his life, Bernice, and married her at Christmas time, enjoying 48 years together. In answer to their prayers, they were blessed with their son Michael in 1976, who was born with intellectual disabilities, but flourished with their tender care. Doctors had predicted a short life span for Michael, who is now 46 years old, 6’3” living in a Catholic based group home, “L’Arche Jacksonville,” which is dedicated to ensuring that its members receive the respect and support they need to live meaningful and fulfilling lives. They are treasured as family and valued for the gifts they bring to the community and the world. When he came home for holidays and visits, Michael was afraid they were not going to take him back to his other home that he loved. Michael has valuable lessons to impart to everyone he meets. Faith, patience, love, and joyful spontaneity make him, in LArche language, a true “teacher of the heart.” Eventually Joe gave up his photography job in NY and moved his family to their “dream” home in Palm Coast, where Joe returned to teaching high school in the public school system. Joe and Bernice enjoyed all their church friends and organizations, Bible Study, and the Prayer Group they hosted in their home. They attended daily mass at their parish church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and enjoyed being with the Carmelites for Saturday Prayer and Coffee. Joe took time out each day to read his priestly Office, forever a Jesuit. Joe will always be remembered for his gentle ways, his deep spirituality, his many acts of kindness, his fantastic memory of life events (can tell you exactly what he did in first grade and probably in the womb), his love of family get togethers, his compassionate spirit, and his dry sense of humor. As age and illnesses slowed Joe and Bernice down, there were many trips to the hospital and rehab. Their life was changing, especially when neither could no longer drive. When Bernice died suddenly on Feb. 23 this year from a fall in her kitchen, Joe was immediately moved to Peaceful House, a lovely, small, assisted living home nearby where his church friends could visit him, since he had no family members living in Florida. His niece, Anne Marie Edden, lovingly accepted guardianship of Michael (46), and his sister-in-law, Joanne Edden, generously managed his different accounts. It was a big change for Joe, as he now got confused easily, had a hard time remembering words and events, and all new surroundings. Asking Joe how old he was recently, he had to guess and he replied “60,” and I said, “No, Joe, you’re “91,” and absolutely amazed, he kept repeating, “91, 91, 91…wow!” He said he needed a new pair of shoes and I asked him, “What size?” and he replied, “The distance between my thumb and index finger.” Two days after I spoke to him, he died peacefully in his sleep on Sept. 8, the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day he took his first Jesuit vows. Joe is survived by his son Michael Edden, and sister Elaine Stillwell, and many nephews and nieces; is pre-deceased by his beloved wife, Bernice, his parents, Margaret and Adolph Edden, and brother Francis Edden. The family would be grateful for donations made in Joe’s name to his son’s home, L’Arche Jacksonville, 700 Arlington Road North, Jacksonville, FL 32211, (904) 721-5992. A.M.D.G., the Jesuit motto, “For the greater glory of God.”

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