Dr. Kenneth Cromwell Madden, Sr. died on May 29th at the age of 102. He was a leader in education as well as in the military. He retired as Delaware’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1980 after 41 years of education in Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware. His years as Delaware’s State Superintendent were marked by school consolidation, the student rights movement and the court action to desegregate the New Castle County School District.
Kenneth Madden was born in Orbisonia, PA on September 20, 1917 to Charles Alfred Madden and Elsie Cromwell Madden. He attended the Orbisonia Public Schools and graduated as Valedictorian of his class in 1934. Lacking funds to supplement a college scholarship, he had to delay attending college for a year. He was able to start college in 1935 and graduated with honors from Shippensburg State Teachers College in 1939 with certification to teach all elementary grades and Mathematics and History at the secondary level.
He was employed in his home town of Orbisonia, PA in a combination classroom of 5th and 6th grades. The following year he switched to high school because secondary teachers were higher paid. His teaching was interrupted by World War II and he was drafted in the Army in 1941. He met his wife to be, Mabel Failes, during basic training at Fort Eustis, VA and they were married on April 26, 1942 after receiving a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Dr. Madden was assigned to a unit that was being sent overseas and after three weeks of marriage, they were separated for three years. He participated in the D-Day invasions of North Africa and Sicily and D-14 in Italy. He won seven battle stars for the seven campaigns in this area and two invasion arrowheads. He received the Bronze Star for Valor and rose to the rank of Major at the war’s end.
Dr. Madden served in the Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware National Guard organizations. He retired from the Delaware National Guard as a Brigadier General where he received both the Conspicuous Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal.
Following World War II, Dr. Madden attended the University of North Carolina where he received his Master of Arts Degree in 1946 and Pennsylvania State University where he received his Doctor of Education Degree in School Administration in 1950. In 1946 following his year at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Madden was appointed Superintendent of his home town schools. From 1950 to 1952 he was a member of the faculty and staff of Columbia University.
From 1952 - 1967, Dr. Madden served as Superintendent of the Seaford Schools. Dr. Madden earned a reputation as an innovator in the Seaford School District pioneering the Stauffer Reading Program from the University of Delaware and an elementary math program under Dr. Schott from Marquette University. Both programs brought widespread recognition to Seaford Schools.
In 1967, Dr. Madden was appointed State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He was faced with school consolidation started by his predecessor. State School Consolidation was signed into law on June 3, 1968. Dr. Howard E. Row and Dr. Madden were the principal authors of this legislation. Dr. Madden developed the administration staffing pattern for the Delaware School Districts which was included as a part of this legislation.
During his tenure as State Superintendent many pieces of legislation were developed by him and his staff and passed into law, among them public kindergartens and the beginning of equalization funds.
Dr. Madden received many awards and among them were the John Hay Fellowship Award in 1963, the Freedom Foundation Award in 1965, the Distinguished Service Medal of Seaford Kiwanis Club and the one of which he was most proud, the Distinguished Alumni Award of his Alma Mater, Shippensburg State University.
Dr. Madden served with distinction in offices in education, his community and his church. As president of the Chief School Officers Association, Senior Citizens, Kiwanis Club Present and Lt. Governor in the Capital District and the Chairman of the Board in this local church, he served his community and state well.
Dr. Madden was predeceased by his wife of 77 years, Mabel Failes Madden and his daughter, Eileen Madden Larrimore. He is survived by his daughter, Adele Madden, his son, Dr. Kenneth C. Madden, Jr (Michelle), his daughter, Judy Rhodes (Gregory) and his son-in-law, Randall Larrimore. His nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren share in the sorrow of his passing.
The family would like to express their appreciation for the many years of service and friendship by the Staff at the Acts Retirement Home (Manor House) in Seaford.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to St. John’s United Methodist Church in Seaford, DE.
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