Donna Summer- The world calls her diva…we call her, ‘A Great Soul’

By Dr. Mary Ellen Strong-Gaines

Dr. Mary Ellen Strong-Gaines, a Milwaukee native is pictured with Donna Summer in a photo taken some years ago. Strong-Gaines was a longtime friend of the singer and later even became her stepmother. Summer passed last week, on May 17, and a private family funeral was held in Nashville, TN earlier this week.

As I talked with my friend and pastor, Diego Mesa of Abundant Living Family Church in Rancho Cucamonga, CA; he marveled at the things I told him of Donna Summer. I told him of my years as a friend and he encouraged me to share this experience with the world.

Perhaps you have heard over and over her famous hit, ‘Last Dance’. But never heard her sing Gospel, ‘We’ve Come This Far by Faith, God Will Take Care of You’ or ‘God Can Do Anything’ (By Mary Ellen Strong). She was in her heaven not on the stage, but in a church or woman’s conference, singing as thousands praised God; sang and danced to her rendition of ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’. She was never happier.

The Donna I wished the world knew, the Donna that tithed, ten percent of her earnings. In all that she earned, she remembered God first. Check with Apostle Fred Price in Los Angeles, Bethel Church in Nashville and so many charities, orphanages, homes for unwed mothers and the thousands of cots and beds for the homeless. Let’s talk about the hundreds of sandwiches she and her staff would also make for the homeless. The charities that I know she supported, the rents she paid, and the list goes on, and on. But Donna would always say, “…my record is on High.”

As an Evangelist, she would send for me many times. Even when performing in the world renowned casinos, Donna would have management set aside a large room for me to hold healing service for the hurt, sick and broken hearted. People were healed and delivered (even some of her relatives) and many were brought to the Lord. Many times Donna would travel to where I was speaking-she would sing to God’s glory! Pastor Price once wrote her a note and urged her to sing Gospel. He felt the world should hear her sing as he heard her sing ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’. It never happened; she quietly supported the Word of God.

What do I remember most about Donna is first, her love for God. Nothing, no nothing got in her way to serve and honor Him. Secondly, the love for her family, her mother, Mary Ellen and she adored her father, Andrew, her husband, Bruce and their daughters, Mimi, Brooklyn and Amanda and her four grandchildren. She loved Israel and sponsored many families to Jerusalem. The orphans, homeless and needy will all miss her. No it wasn’t just ‘She Works Hard for the Money’ or ‘Last Dance’. Her talent reached far beyond music….she painted like a “Master”, her work sold worldwide. I could go on and on and tell you of one of the most wonderful human beings that God bless me to know.

Donna, I tried to tell the world about the other side of the best side. And, like you said to me often, “I try”. This earthly battle is over. You use to say to me, “…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

So for now, goodbye……I will see you soon at the Eastern Gate.