James Madden – larger than life, but always behind the scenes

At left, James Madden (left) and Pearce Jamieson on one of their many trips.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Tomorrow (Saturday, August 12) we will say goodbye to someone who has played a huge part not only in our lives, but the life of this community.

James Madden was a close friend (as is his wife, Lyda). They were dear friends of my parents and, therefore, James filled in for me in that position when my dad passed away in 1991. They were fellow travelers and spent many a day in the duck blind.

When my brother and I were children, our parents read to us about the Adventures of Uncle Wiggly, the Rabbit Gentleman who lived in the Forest. When the Maddens and our parents began traveling together, they often had adventures. Mother still called them Uncle Wiggly Adventures, but James called them Piggly Wiggly Adventures. Now sometimes, we do, too, just because …

James loved his family, his friends, and (almost) above all, Minden. He took a company his father started and made it so successful that few people in this part of the world can say they have never heard or dealt with Madden Contracting.

Whether it was political or charitable, James was one of the first persons through the door to support it. He had very definitive feelings concerning who sat in a place of power in the community. He always preferred to do it behind the scenes, though.

Our last conversation with James was standing in our driveway about a month to six weeks ago. He came by and brought fresh eggs. Every so often after that, we would find another dozen on the hood of my car. He did it quietly; we never knew he had been there. I guess our dogs were familiar with his vehicle or they liked his canine co-pilot. Those eggs were (and still are) so fresh – if you try to boil them, you can’t peel them. But darn, they taste good.

During that final visit with James, he expressed concern over the direction our community is headed. At 85 years old, he was still sharp as a tack and opinionated about this subject. It wasn’t that he felt like only his generation could do it right … he believed the persons who either hold public office or serve on committees that make vital decisions should change every so often. Changes in people mean changes in the face of the community and its prosperity.

He felt strongly that if the same people served in the same or even similar places – no matter whether it was through election or appointment – our community would never grow.

“You can’t keep putting the same people in the same – or even different – positions and expect growth,” he said. “Different people bring different perspectives and opinions to the table and that’s important to growth and success.”

After almost an hour of standing in the driveway that day, we agreed the three of us – James, Pat and I – would meet over coffee soon and talk about it again. James had things he wanted to say, and he was choosing and trusting us to say it for him. He told us to write it and sign his name to it. Of course, we weren’t going to do that. Everything we wrote from his perspective would come directly from his mouth. 

Unfortunately, we never had that opportunity. One day, we realized the eggs had stopped appearing. It crossed my mind that either something was wrong with James or maybe his 20+ laying hens. Sadly, I was “too busy” to check on him. “I’ll call when I get a chance.” Famous last words too many times.

I will miss talking with James, hearing his distinctive voice and those eyebrows! They were indicative of his inquisitiveness. Always looked like he was questioning an opinion or about to say something funny. 

If you serve this community in ANY way, and you respected James Madden and what he stood for, please keep in mind that he felt a change in faces would mean a change in places. We owe him that much. Actually, we owe him much, much more.

In conclusion James was a voracious reader, and one of his philosophies came from Ronald Reagan. It reads like this “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do, if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

We are re-publishing his very humble obituary for those who may have missed it.

James D. Madden

Jan. 13, 1938 – August 7, 2023

James D. Madden, 85, of Minden, Louisiana was born January 13, 1938, in Heflin, Louisiana left this earthly life for his heavenly home August 7, 2023, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was an active member of First Methodist Church in Minden and owner of Madden Contracting Company.

James was preceded in death by his parents, Grady and Johnye Mae Madden, daughter Sarah Margaret Madden Willis, and great grandson Huck Hurley.

He is survived by his wife, Lyda Madden of Minden; sons, Doug Madden, David Madden and John Madden all of Minden; grandchildren, Ashley Rowton, Erin Ramsey, Matthew Madden, Will Madden, Caroline Rodrigues, Levi Madden, Jake Madden, Bailee Hurley, Savannah Aday, and Catherine Simonton; and 20 great-grandchildren.

Services celebrating the life of James will be held Saturday, August 12, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at First Methodist Church in Minden, Louisiana with Rev. Steve Berger and Rev. Brian Mercer officiating. Interment will follow at Gardens of Memory in Minden, Louisiana. The family will receive friends Friday, August 11, 2023, at 5:30 p.m. at First Methodist Church in Minden.