Eulogy for Jack (John) L. Madison
August 09, 2018
by Pastor John Partridge
I only met Jack Madison a month ago and I have already learned what most of you have known for a long time. Simply knowing Jack was enough to change your life. It isn’t that Jack was some powerful force of nature that was impossible to ignore, in fact, it’s almost the opposite. Jack Madison was the kind of a guy who influenced the people around him, and changed the world, without ever intending to do it. But first, let’s go back to the beginning of the story.
Jack Madison was born on November 5th, 1928 to his mother, Florence and his father, John Madison. Jack’s father had immigrated here from Romania and settled in Alliance and went to work in his wife’s family greenhouse business. Their house, and the land upon which the greenhouses sat, became Jack’s home for nearly all his life. But, at the age of 16, within a span of two months, Jack lost his mother to breast cancer and then his grandmother as well. My guess is, that the response of the community and of his church, to that tragedy and their help in getting him through it, shaped Jack’s dedication to helping others and giving back to his community, whenever he could.
Jack went to school at Alliance High School and then to Mount Union, where he pledged the Sigma Nu fraternity. During the Korean Conflict, Jack joined the Coast Guard, travelled to training in San Francisco, California, Atlanta, Georgia, and New London, Connecticut, before being stationed in New York City to assist with port security. That stretch in the military was one of the only times that Jack ever lived outside of Alliance and even then, his character shone through. Whenever anyone would say anything about his military service, Jack would almost always change the discussion to how proud he was of his brother’s service.
Jack and his brother Elvin were hardly ever apart. At one point, Elvin came home with an old Model-T, and the two of them shared it and kept it running. Jack eventually fell in love with Deon Russell, who became his wife and who worked as a nurse at Aultman Hospital. Together they liked to ride their bicycles, enjoy the parks and the scenery around Alliance, and stay active. To support his family, Jack started out working for the family greenhouse business, but eventually chose not to take over the business and do his own thing. And, as everyone knows, whatever Jack set his mind to doing, he did it well and with dedication. Jack worked for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for 40 years and eventually oversaw the financial operations for the racing tire division and later, for the blimp division. His family told me the other night, that because of his position and his connections, the entire family always had Goodyear jackets, and hats, tickets to car races, and other cool stuff from the racing teams and at one point even got a blimp ride.
But Jack wasn’t just about the free stuff. For Jack it was always staying faithful to the things that were important to him and doing whatever he could to help the people, and the community, around him. The entire family remembers travelling with Jack on lots of vacations together, that Jack’s was the phone number to call if you ever needed anything, and that Jack was always the “go to” guy for anyone that needed someone to get things right. For years, Jack balanced his sister-in-law’s checkbook because she needed the help and he knew how to do it. Jack also did what he could to help his roommate, John, who he had come to know like family.
For fun, Jack played the saxophone, four types of saxophones, and I don’t mean once in a while, in the basement. Jack had a band. And it was good. Jack played in an orchestra, or a dance band, with a bunch of folks that played Big Band music and they rehearsed every week and performed somewhere regularly. I was told that more than once, as the family drove past the club that is now the “Dusky Armadillo” in Rootstown, Jack pointed it out and told them that his band had played there many times. Even after the Big Band era had passed, Jack continued to play the sax in the Alliance City Band.
There were several things in Jack’s life that never changed, and first among them was his love for, and his dedication to, his family. Jack was always close to his family, and he instilled that closeness in everyone else as well. Jack was dedicated to Alliance High School, and to Mount Union, went to many of their games long after he had any family members in school, and, with a little help, still saw a game last year. Jack was always dedicated to his community, and belonged to his church, and volunteered regularly, for 50 years. But in all of those things, even though he usually persuaded everyone to do things his way, Jack was never overbearing. Jack wanted to make sure that his home, his cottage at Lakeside, his community, and its parks, all looked good, but although you always knew that he was a man of his word, he never worried about who would get the credit. And the other things that didn’t change were that Jack always wore his Mount Union windbreaker and baseball cap, and, absolutely, had to wear shoes that were black. No fancy colors, not even gray. Only black was acceptable. And there was no point even arguing about it.
The life of Jack Madison was often a living example of human determination. Jack did whatever he had decided to do, regardless of his obstacles and limitation. He was always busy, and he never let anything stop him. Despite his arthritis, and the pain that it caused him, and the way that it bent his fingers and his hands, Jack still did whatever he set his mind to doing. He would simply not accept any limitations. At the family cottage in Lakeside, Ohio, Jack liked to “fish.” But you see, Jack’s hobby wasn’t the usual sort of fishing. Jack had a grappling hook, a pretty heavy one, on a rope or a chain, and Jack would throw that hook from the dock, pull it back in hand over hand, and see what sorts of treasure he could pull up. Sometimes it was fishing tackle, and sometimes whole fishing rods that had been lost by other fishermen. In recent years, Jack was still doing it, even with his arthritis and bent fingers, because nothing was going to stop Jack from doing what he wanted to do. Discomfort, or even pain, wasn’t going to stop Jack from doing something that he enjoyed.
And so no, Jack Madison was not a force of nature that was impossible to ignore and bent everyone to his will. But, in his own quiet way, he influenced the lives of everyone around him and changed the world. Everyone that knew Jack carries with them life-changing lessons that we will never forget. Always keep your family close. Do whatever you can, whenever you can, whenever you can. Always be useful. Don’t be too proud to do hard work and don’t let your ego get in the way. Just because you manage the finances of a Fortune 500 company doesn’t mean you’re too important to tidy up the flower beds in the park or balance your sister-in-law’s checkbook. And don’t let anything stop you from doing the things that you enjoy.
If any of us can remember even half of what Jack taught us, and the life that he lived out every day, we will be better people, better families, a better church, and a better community than we used to be, and, like Jack, we will change the world.
Obituary for Jack (John) L. Madison
Jack L. Madison, age 89, of Alliance, Ohio, died Saturday, August 4, 2018, at Community Care Center surrounded by his family.
Born November 5, 1928 in Alliance, he was the son of the late John and Florence (Lozier) Madison.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Deon (Russell) Madison; sister, D. Jean Madison Rudolph Krahling; and his best friend and brother, Elvin Madison.
He is survived by his sister-in-law, Jean Madison; grandsons, Jack and Thomas Madison and their mother, Diana D’Eramo Madison, of Alliance; nephews and nieces, Jack B. (Linda) Madison, Cindy (Ron) Knepp, Dick Madison, Chandi Rudolph (Kelly), Bob (Brenda) Madison; great-nieces and great-nephews, Lee, Sarah (Matt), Erika, Aaron (Juliana), Conner, Elliot, Aubrey, Bailey, Samantha, and Ellen; his good friends, Carol Wearstler and Tim Barnhouse; his close friend and roommate at Community Care, John Townsend; and a son, Edward.
Jack enjoyed working in the gardens around his house and in Madison Park, spending time at his cottage at Lakeside, Ohio, going to Alliance Aviator football and basketball games, and attending games at his Alma Mater, Mount Union College.
He volunteered in the Carnation Days in the Park, making hamburgers and hot dogs for The Christ United Methodist Church. His favorite thing was spending time with his grandsons and attending their various activities.
Mr. Madison retired, after 40 years of service, from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He worked in the finance department in many different aspects of the business from their racing tire division to the Blimp operations. In his early years, he worked in the greenhouses and drove the delivery truck for the family business, Lozier Greenhouse.
Mr. Madison was a graduate of Alliance High School. He graduated from Mount Union College in 1950 and was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity. He served in the Coast Guard stationed in New York City with the Port Security. He was a 50-year member of Christ United Methodist Church of Alliance, Alliance Lions Club, and a member of The Alliance Shade Tree Committee. He began volunteering at Alliance Community Hospital in 1992 accumulating over 18, 630 hours. Jack was involved in many big band groups playing his saxophone as well as a member of the Alliance City Band. He was also a member of the Lakeside Guy’s Club.
The family would like to thank Community Care Center for the great care they gave Jack. He loved them like family and Dr. Lehrer and the Palliative Group for the compassionate care they have given to Jack.
Calling hours will be held from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, August 8, 2018, at Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home. A second visitation will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, August 9, 2018 at the funeral home with Jack’s service being held at 11 a.m. Burial will take place at Mount Union Cemetery in Alliance.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christ United Methodist Church, Community Care Center, Alliance Friends of Parks, or Lakeside Heritage Society 324 West Third St. Lakeside, Ohio 43440 for Building Fund.
Arrangements are by Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home 75 S. Union Ave., Alliance, OH 44601.