Walter Woodrow Madden (M.B.A ’74)

Walter Woodrow Madden, of Spring, Texas passed away on Monday August 17, 2020. Woody was born July 5, 1939 in Hotchkiss, Colorado. He was the youngest of 5 children born to Otis and Mary A. Madden. For most of Woody’s childhood, the family lived in Delta, Colorado where his father Otis ran the lumber mill and was the town’s first mayor. When Woody was 14 the family moved to Grand Junction, Colorado. He graduated from Grand Junction High School in 1957. He attended the University of Denver working his way through college as a shoe salesman. Woody was also a member of the SAE Fraternity at the University of Denver and remained an ardent supporter and fundraiser for the chapter throughout his life. He graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and enlisted in the United States Navy. Woody served in the United States Navy as an Officer on the USS Richard B. Anderson (DD-786) during the Vietnam War. In 1964 Woody met and married LaLarnie Singleton. He served as a U.S. Navy until starting his career with ExxonMobil in 1966. He and LaLarnie raised two daughters together. As Woody’s career grew, the family moved multiple times living in Santa Maria, California, Houston, Texas, Denver, Colorado, Westport, Connecticut, and Morristown, New Jersey. Somehow in between all the moves, Woody earned his MBA from the University of Houston in 1974. In 1990 Woody and LaLarnie happily accepted a transfer back to Houston where both of their daughters were living. Their first grandchild Patrick was born in 1992 two months before LaLarnie died of lung cancer. In 1994 Woody married Mary Anna Sullivan. They made their home in Spring, Texas and both continued working for ExxonMobil. After 34 years with ExxonMobil, Woody retired in 2000 and started his grand adventures with Mary Anna traveling the world. Early in his retirement, Woody was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He did not let his diagnosis slow him down. He and Mary Anna took cruises to Alaska, Europe and the Panama Canal to name a few, always sending postcards to their grandkids from their exotic destinations. They especially loved to spend time at their home in Colorado visiting family and friends and enjoying the cool mountain air to escape the Texas heat! Woody and Mary Anna regularly attended his high school reunions, both Delta and Grand Junction, and the annual Navy reunion was always the highlight of their year. When they weren’t traveling, they enjoyed watching their grandkids grow up, playing bridge, and attending the theater with friends. In retirement Woody stayed busy. His public relations expertise led him to teaching graduate level public relations courses at the University of Houston and writing chapters for public relations textbooks. He remained active in public affairs serving in a variety of local and national organizations including, Chairman of the Foundation for Public Affairs, Chairman of ESCH, Executive Service Corporation of Houston, Chairman of the Board of Directors for PRSA, Public Relations Society of America, and as a member of the American Petroleum Institute. From a young age, Woody loved all sports. Growing up, he and his brother Phil spent hours playing basketball. At forty Woody discovered golf, spending many happy years on the course making lifelong friends and wonderful memories. He loved to work on his game, go to the driving range or Top Golf with his grandchildren, and playing weekly with both his Tuesday group and his Saturday foursome. Woody was a lifelong Methodist and an active member at John Wesley United Methodist Church in Spring, TX. He served for many years as an usher and was instrumental in bringing the Parkinson’s disease support group to John Wesley UMC. As his Parkinson’s disease progressed, he and Mary Anna traveled less, but he still enjoyed golf and time with friends and family. Woody was a loving father, grandfather, and uncle; he was especially dedicated to the education of his grandchildren. Woody also remained a donor to both the University of Denver and the University of Houston where he received many honors for his support. Woody is survived by his loving wife Mary Anna of 26 years, daughter LaLarnie “Cassie” (George) Neitzey, daughter Erin Collins, and four grandchildren, Patrick (Hannah) Neitzey, Harper Neitzey, Skylar Collins and Delaney Collins, one great grandchild Nolan Alexander Ray, sister Bonnye (Ken) White, brother Philip (Jackie) Madden and many nieces and nephews. Woody was preceded in death by his parents Otis and Mary A. Madden, sister Vera and brother Otis Jr., and his first wife LaLarnie Singleton Madden. Celebration of life services for Woody Madden will be held for family and friends in Houston, Texas on November 28th and in Golden, Colorado in the summer of 2021. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation or any Parkinson’s organization of your choice.

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