Monday, October 09, 2017

Sue and Donald, around ages five and



Tuesday, December 06, 2016


Obituary for Virginia Madden 

Virginia Madden
Virginia Lee Highfill Madden
Today Virginia Highfill Madden takes her rightful place among heaven’s angels. Her years of self-sacrifice, caring for her husband and raising 3 boys has qualified her for her new role.
Virginia was born February 26th, 1926 to Ernie and Georgia Highfill in Olive, Missouri. Times were tough even for her father’s mercantile business. She attended Draughon Business School before working at Beiderman’s Furniture Store in Springfield. She met and married Curtis Madden shortly after his return from the Marines where he was stationed in the Pacific and in China. They first made their home in Olive, Missouri then on a farm near Elkland, Missouri. Her husband used to say that farming was not profitable, “you could make more money selling $2 axe handles for $1”. She relished the farming life including maintaining the farm and keeping an acre and a half garden. Virginia was self-sufficient in ways rare in today’s world. Her work on the farm was never ending.
Her faith was resolute and unshakeable. She attended and was a member at the Fair Grove Methodist Church where she had many friends. Through the years she took great pleasure in the progress her 3 sons made in the world. Her patience for delivering them to practice, games and school was remarkable. She was able to guide them to a great work ethic and set of values. That guidance was at once gentle in the way it was delivered, but firm in her resolve that her boys understand right from wrong.
Later in life Virginia took over the formidable task of caring for Curt. She took classes in nursing and delivered his care superbly. Curt was able to live comfortably thanks to Virginia’s self-sacrifice.
Virginia loved to prepare enormous meals for family and friends. She expected family and visitors to eat heartily and we seldom disappointed her. Many of those meals put expensive restaurants to shame.
She was also a master at quilting. Concept, design, materials and production were tools of an art form to Virginia. Those of us blessed enough to possess an example are fortunate. She gave most of these away as gifts ever eager to start a new one.
Even in her late years, through her memory loss, her sense of humor was exceptional. Her boys and her sister spent many afternoons laughing with her as family stories were told and retold.
It is difficult to imagine how complete and well-rounded were Virginia’s skills and capabilities. Outstanding mother, remarkable friend, caretaker, chef, nurse, farmer, gardener – the list is quite long. Mostly she was our mom and we were incredibly lucky to have her.
Virginia is survived by a sister, Mary Bratcher, a brother Hunter Highfill, 3 sons, Brian Madden, Sean Madden and Mike Madden and three grandchildren: Lauren Dwight, Jeremy Madden and Cory Madden..
Please join us in celebrating the life of a wonderful, kind woman who will be sorely missed.
Funeral services will be at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at Greenlawn Funeral Home North with burial to follow in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens.
Visitation will be Tuesday evening, December 6th from 5pm to 7pm at the funeral home.
Virginia Lee Highfill Madden

I took this very complete and spot-on obituary about Virginia Madden from Facebook.  To place Virginia Lee Highfill Madden in the larger context of the Madden-Felin family, I offer the following.  My mother, Margaret Marie Madden Felin was the oldest in the Madden family of six--parents Harve and Margaret (Maggie) Stone Madden; children Margaret Marie, Mildred (Long), Curtis, and Kent.  Aunt Virginia, widow of Curtis, was the last of that generation of aunts and uncles for the children, grandchildren, and grandchildren of Margaret Marie Madden and James Louis Felin.  [I am Rose, child number six of Margaret and James Felin.  The others:  Bernie (deceased), Robert (deceased), Joseph, John, Margaret (deceased), Martha Sue (deceased), and Donald.]

Seeing Aunt Virginia's brother, Hunter's name in the obituary brought up some happy memories for me.  When my sister Sue and I were kids, we would occasionally stay with Aunt Virginia and Uncle Curt for a few days at their home/farm in the tiny town of Olive, MO.  Hunter, about the most handsome and kindest man Sue or I had ever known, would take us fishing.  He taught us how to bait hooks with grasshoppers and worms, how to know when to reel in the catch, how to recognize what we had caught.  We were extremely grateful that he would also clean the fish!  He also took us frogging.  I well remember Aunt Virginia preparing frog legs caught in our nocturnal hunts.  The legs jumping in the skillet were too much for us, so I don't believe we ate them.  Seems dumb now, but, hey, we were kids!

Uncle Curt and Aunt Virginia had a farm with dairy cows.  Watching the milking machines extract milk from all those cows lined up in the barn was quite a wondrous sight.

One memory about Aunt Virginia stands out.  Sue and I were in the kitchen.  Aunt Virginia called from the other room, "There is candy for you two in the crisper."  The crisper?  Sue and I looked at each other.  We had no idea what a crisper was and did not want to reveal our ignorance.  I no longer remember how we coped, but somehow we did.  To this day, the word "crisper" is a mystery to me.  Why that name?

My niece, Sabrina (Smith), daughter of Margaret, and I considered traveling to Springfield for Aunt Virginia's funeral but could not work it out.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike, Brian, and Sean as they bid farewell to this wonderful mother.  May she go from strength to strength.

A footnote:  It was during our pilgrimage to Stephanie's parents' graves on Sunday that we learned of Aunt Virginia's passing.  Somehow, the time was fitting.

Sunday, December 04, 2016


December 4, 2016

It was both a somber and an enjoyable morning for me. Sabrina, my niece, and her husband Dave (Smiths, they are) invited me to breakfast and to their annual Christmas visit to Sabrina's parents' graves.  (Sabrina's mother and father are my sister and brother-in-law, Margaret and Norman Abbott.)  Sabrina every year orders a Christmas wreath for the plot in the veteran's cemetery in south St. Louis County.

This national cemetery is a beautiful place overlooking the Mississippi River.  Below are two photos Sabrina took, one of the gravesite with the wreath, another of seven deer we saw grazing unperturbed by the road nearby.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Chris completed the New York City Marathon on November 6, 2016, in 5 hrs and 18 minutes.  Congratulations, Christopher!  He and his friend Eric Nichols raised $5000 for the ALS Foundation in honor of Chris' mother who died last year

Quite an achievement for anyone.  I asked Chris when he is running another marathon.  His answer, "Never!"

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Chris Spreitler and the New York Marathon

Chris sent me this photo with his caption, "I thought this place went away."  Many years ago Chris and I spent a week in New York City.  I was on a business trip, and he was a high school student.  The move "Tootsie" had featured The Russian Tea Room in a prominent scene, so Chris and I went there for a wonderful dinner.

Chris has been training for months to run the New York City Marathon next Sunday, (November 6).  He took this ordeal on as a fund-raising effort for ALS and to honor his mother who died of an ALS-related illness in 2015.  During the "Ice Bucket Challenge" that raised so much for ALS research, many members of our far-flung family, including Chris and his brother, took the challenge.  (It was a chilling thing!)  Chris' current challenge is a much bigger deal.

Good luck, Chris.  Godspeed!  Or, I believe your prayer is "God, let me finish the thing!"

Here is Chris' race info.  I believe there is an marathon app you can download to follow a runner in real time.  More info when I get it from Chris.

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Hall 3B
11th Avenue at 36th Street
New York, New York

Customer ID Number:

13607350       Chris Spreitler

Sunday, October 09, 2016


Pete and Janet Felin's daughter, Merri Felin Johnson, and her husband Albert were in New York City this week for a celebration of powerful women in banking.  Merri is President of a region of Zion Bank.

Congratulations, Merri!

Thursday, October 06, 2016


Sue's son, Christopher, has been training for the November 6, 2017, New York Marathon.  He is still short of the targeted fund-raising for ALS research and could use a boost to his goal.  For updates on his progress or to donate, go to  A better link is:

I'll post a new photo of Chris soon.  His training has him in tiptop shape.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 16

On train from Firenze to Rome then different train to Rome's Fiumicino airport. Overnight at the Hilton here then shuttle to American Airlines at 8 am tomorrow. Long walk(another one) from train station to the Hilton. Three very tired travelers. Trip to Rome was 1 1/2 hours then another 1/2 hour train to airport.

Day 16

Yes, McDonald's at Firenze train station. On train to Rome. Full train.

Day 15

A few words about our wonderful, terrible day yesterday. We traveled to Pisa, saw the leaning tower but didn't climb it because there was a three-hour wait.  We did go into the baptistery, climb to the top and were there for the enchanting chanting someone does every half hour or so.

From there we walked a long way to catch a bus to the Adriatic Sea in a coast town about half an hour ride from Pisa.  The guys went swimming while I sat on the beach protecting myself from the blazing sun. It was in the high 90's yesterday.

We took the bus back to Pisa, walked a long way to the train terminal because we got off the bus too soon.  This was the turn of a magical day to difficult day.  We walked a long way to the train terminal, then took the train back to Firenze, but got off one stop too soon.  After recognizing our error, we walked back to the train station and rode the short distance to the right stop which is a very short bus ride to our apartment or a 15 minute walk.  (After almost two weeks here, a 15 minute walk is nothing.)

Nevertheless , we hopped on our bus.  The driver tried to make us understand he was ending for the day and was headed to a parking lot.  Not understanding we stayed aboard, and he just shrugged his shoulders.  Soon we saw, and then understood, so got off that bus.  We walked a while, and hopped on another bus that Jalen, with his map, soon alerted us was going the wrong way.  Again, we jumped off at the first opportunity.  We ended up walking the entire distance, even getting separated from Jalen at some point.  As soon as Brayden could see the dome of the Duomo, he knew exactly how to get to the apartment. Jalen beat us there by a few minutes.

Adding to our part-terrible day was the theft of my iPhone.  We have heard warnings about pick pokketers from day one of our arrival in Italy.  As we waited for the train from Pisa to Firenze, there was a last minute platform change.  The three of us rushed to the different platform, just in time for boarding.  I had stuck my phone in my pocket, a definite no-no.  Sure enough, someone lifted it in the crush of people trying to board.  Along with the phone, the thief got my driver license and my atm card.

As soon as we got back to the apartment where we have wifi-fi, Brayden and I used Find Your Phone, of course, without success.  We erased the phone of all its contents, and I cancelled my ATM card.  Determined not to let our mishaps ruin a perfectly good day, we went out to dinner.  The dinner photos I posted last night were taken with my iPad.

A long, long day!  We finished dinner around 11:00 pm local time.

This morning I went to the Apple Store, a five minute walk from the apartment, to inquire about replacing the phone.  Too complicated because of my U. S. carrier.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 14

Late and wonderful dinner near the Duomo after long day to Pisa then to beach on the Italian Riviera. More photos to come. Tomorrow back to Rome them home on Thursday.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Day 13

Dinner last in Florence

Day 13

Still in Florence. Jalen slept in. Bray and I did some walking around, snacking, and shopping. We plan a nice dinner later this event. (Florentines eat very late.)