Long-time organist at St. Elizabeth Clarksdale passes at age 95

CLARKSDALE – Evelyn Campassi Demilio was born with music in her soul in Clarksdale on Feb. 16, 1925. At Clarksdale High School she enjoyed playing the piano for assemblies and school events and went on to attend St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana and studied music, piano and the organ.
Demilio played the organ at St. Elizabeth Clarksdale for over 50 years (beginning in 1946) and taught piano lessons at St. Elizabeth School for over 25 years. She also assisted in teaching the children’s choir for many years. Additionally, she played for numerous weddings and always referred to the organ as “The King of Church Music.” The Moller organ keyboard danced when she played; you knew when Evelyn was upstairs.

In her own words: My guiding principle. By Evelyn Demilio
My first priority has been to make our services liturgically correct – trying at the same time to make it a beautiful experience for all who “participate.” Next, I always kept abreast of the times in what the leaders in Catholic liturgy were doing. I never visited a church without researching a new response, acclamation – or any new, good material I heard. I always used the best of the new. It was fun to do and it keeps our congregation engaged. I wanted to elevate the taste of our community in what was the best in music. I always felt that our St. Elizabeth community could be the best – anywhere, anytime.
Of course, there have been new trends and new directions (some good, some bad) and that will always be; but, in the big picture our old, traditional Catholic music will still survive and flourish because it continues to be the best and most beautiful in praising our Lord, Jesus Christ. In retrospect after 50 plus years as organist at St. Elizabeth Clarksdale, I believe the liturgy and our congregation are best served by our traditional Catholic music and song. Without this, we lose our history and identity as “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
Just listen to the organ and sing the music … beautiful!

She enjoyed her volunteer work at the Clarksdale Care Station and only stopping because her age dictated that she could do no more. The Mag-Pie Gift and Art Shop was a favorite workplace where she assisted brides-to-be with china and table setting selections. Frequently re-decorating the window displays was something she always anticipated.
In her 85th year, she persisted with the landscape at St. Elizabeth Church and School to get the live oak trees and crepe myrtles properly trimmed. It is still done today for all to enjoy.
At 90, driving around Clarksdale “running errands” in her Volkswagen Yellow Beetle was a thrill. She would exclaim how many people wanted to buy her “Yellow Bug,” but she always replied: “I don’t think I want to sell,” often resulting in a playful exchange.
In May 2017 at 92 years of age, Demilio agreed, with hesitation, to move into Flowers Manor for her well-being and then to the adjoining Fiser-Spradling Green House. She appreciated all the wonderful help and assistance she got from the staff of caregivers.
In October 2019 at 94 years old, Demilio moved to the Clarksdale Nursing Center for the nursing care she now needed. Alice Mayo still visited with faith and Communion and Father Raju Macherla, too.
Demilio was a happy person with a smile and she remained that way to the end.
She passed at age 95 on Aug. 2, 2020, and was preceded in death by her husband, Louis Demilio, her two brothers Louis and Willie Campassi. Demilio leaves behind six nieces and three nephews, and her son, Ronnie Demilio of New Orleans.