Richard L. Madden, 86, died peacefully surrounded by his family on August 18, 2019.
He is predeceased by his wife of 55 years Mary Jane “Bunny” (Davidson) Madden, their son George B. Madden, his brother John A. Madden, and parents George S. and Julia A. (Feeler) Madden. He is survived by his daughter Mary F. (Darrin) Ryan, and niece Marcie (Phillip) Heese of Clermont, FL, and was “Step Pa” to Dylan and Mollee Ryan.
Richard Lindley Madden, the son of the late George S. and Julia A. Feeler Madden, was known as Dick and was born Sept. 3, 1932, in Indianapolis, Ind. His father was a department store advertising manager; his mother was a homemaker. Starting early, he was the editor of his high school student newspaper, The Riparian, at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis and his college newspaper, The Indiana Daily Student, at Indiana University, where he graduated in 1954 with majors in journalism and government. He and Bunny met on a blind date during their freshman year at college and they were married before their senior year. With an ROTC Army reserve commission, he trained at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga. and served 16 months near the demilitarized zone in South Korea in 1955-’56 as a lieutenant with the 19th Infantry Regiment and the 24th Infantry Division.
As a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, the now defunct New York Herald Tribune and finally as a reporter and editor for 34 years at The New York Times, he covered a wide range of beats and stories including Wall Street, the tobacco industry as it confronted the first major studies on the health risks of smoking. He was a night rewriteman and covered City Hall in New York City when Robert F. Wagner was Mayor. He covered state capitols in Albany, when Nelson A. Rockefeller was Governor and at times a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, and in Hartford when Ella T. Grasso and William A. O’Neill were Governors. He also covered seven presidential nominating conventions, uncounted election campaigns, plane crashes, train wrecks, a bridge and a building collapse, as well as a crossword puzzle tournament and the discovery in Connecticut of a Stradivarius violin that had been stolen in 1935 from Carnegie Hall.
At the Herald Tribune he was co-author with Martin J. Steadman of a series of articles, “Our Sideline Legislators,” about conflicts of interest and ethical lapses in the New York State Legislature, an issue that still resonates in Albany. The series, which led eventually to a few ethics reforms at the time, won most journalism awards in New York City in 1964 including the James Wright Brown award for outstanding journalistic achievement by the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; the Schaefer Gold Typewriter award, and a Page One award for crusading journalism by the Newspaper Guild of New York. The Herald Tribune nominated the series for a Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Madden won a separate award that year from the New York Reporters Association, now the New York Press Club, for coverage on deadline of an outbreak of brushfires on Staten Island.
During his 10 years as a reporter in Washington for The New York Times, he covered Congress as it fought with the Nixon White House over war powers and as it restructured itself to try to better deal with the Federal budget. He also covered the White House as President Gerald R. Ford tried to move the country beyond Watergate and the Vietnam War. He was elected by members of the Washington press corps in 1976 to represent them on the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which oversees the congressional press galleries. He was committee chairman the following year. His posts at The Times included reporter on New York affairs in Washington, Albany Bureau Chief, Connecticut Bureau Chief, and before retiring in 1999 he served nine years as the editor of the now defunct Connecticut Weekly section, a regional section in the Sunday Times.
Mr. Madden described himself as an old-school reporter who was trained that reporters should pursue and write the stories but not become part of the stories. The late R.W. Apple Jr., a legendary senior correspondent for The Times, once described him as “always steady, always underrated by the shouters, always ready to help.”
A resident of Newtown since 1978, he worked as a volunteer at Lime Rock Park for more than 25 years helping run the media center during major road-racing events, and with his neighbors at Castle Hill Farm, where he greeted customers and sold pumpkins each fall. He was a member of the Society of the Silurians, a press club of veteran New York City journalists, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Friends may call at the Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main St, Newtown on Monday August 26 from 5-8 PM. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street, Newtown, CT will be appreciated.