Past International President Wayne Madden’s hometown of Auburn, Indiana, stands proudly as “The Home of the Classics,” where the beautiful Auburn and Cord automobiles once rolled off the car assembly lines.

Hometown boy

Wayne Madden, who lived in Auburn all his life, loved these cars, but especially his own prized 1973 vintage orange Corvette. He passed away on May 30, 2020 at the age of 73. To friends, family, and the Lion family, Madden lived life in just the right spot because he, too, as Lion Hugh Taylor said, was “a classic Auburn citizen.”

PIP Wayne Madden and his wife, Linda.
Madden and his wife, Linda, were high school sweethearts.

In Auburn, a northern Indiana town of 13,000, Wayne Madden was known for his hometown values and willingness to get involved. Both he and his wife, Linda, who he met at a high school dance, attended Manchester college with dreams of becoming teachers. They were a perfect match from the beginning and Madden proposed to Linda while they were still in college. “He gave me my ring in front of his grandmother’s house,” said Linda. They were married in a small chapel on campus.

The couple have two daughters,  Jennifer and Julie, who describe their father as someone who was always there for them.

After college, he taught high school business classes for five years before becoming an insurance agent. He later owned his own agency.

Madden is remembered as the friendly hometown boy who “done good.” Not only did he make his family proud with his professional success, but from an early age he worked to better his community of Auburn and, eventually, broadened his scope of good deeds to the greater global community when he took the wheel as the 95th president of Lions Clubs International in 2012.

PIP Madden and his family
Madden loved spending time with his children and grandchildren.

Lion Bob Metcalf knew Madden for many years and spent much time visiting with his “good and kind friend.” Both were honored to be named Kentucky Colonels by the governor of Kentucky. It’s a title synonymous with strength of character, leadership, and dedication to the welfare of others.

A dedication to making people’s lives better

On February 1, 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to an overflow audience at the tiny campus of what was then Manchester College in North Manchester,  Indiana. Madden was a student in the crowd that day and the experience affected him profoundly. It turned out to be King’s last campus address before he was slain. Years later, Madden said that King’s speech had inspired him to increase his lasting commitment to human rights.

In 1984, Wayne got a letter in the mail inviting him to become an Auburn Lion. He joined immediately. Being a Lion gave him the platform to share his belief in helping people live better lives and the means to do it.

But Madden’s defining moment as a Lion came a decade later, during an eyeglass mission trip to Honduras. As the Lions handed out glasses, Madden watched as a young man with a disability slowly made his way up the line. “He asked me if I had a pair of sunglasses,” said Madden. “He tried on a pair of sunglasses and got a big smile on his face. When you see service actually do something for somebody is when you really become a Lion,” he said.

A Sagamore and true Lion leader

Madden served in multiple roles from club president to district governor, leading to leadership roles in a score of Lion committees and teams including the Global Action Team, Global Membership Team, the Long Range Planning Committee, and LCIF Steering Committee.

PIP Madden with a young child.
Madden loved being a Lion because of the people whose lives he could help to change.

In 2008, Madden was recognized for his humanitarian service by the governor of Indiana as a Sagamore of the Wabash, a state honor that has been bestowed on astronauts, presidents, artists, musicians, and more. "Sagamore" was a term used by Native American tribes of Indiana (and other tribes of the northeastern United States) to describe a lesser chief or a great man among the tribe whom the chief consulted for wisdom and advice. The Wabash refers to the Indiana State River.

Wayne Madden was highly respected and appreciated for his ideals and insight, not just by his wife and two daughters, but by his community and by Lions. He was recently recognized by the Auburn Common Council for his service to the city and his efforts to promote and better the community of Auburn.

During his presidency, Madden and Linda created the Reading Action Program, which was then adopted by the International Board of Directors for the next 10 years. In the spring of 2013, he and Lions Clubs International hosted the Reading Literacy Summit where leading literary experts, researchers, educators, vision health providers, entrepreneurs, and partners from around the world came together to explore the state of global literacy and the challenges and opportunities it presents.

In the 1990s he brought Operation Kid Sight to Indiana. The program develops, trains, and promotes a vision screening program for children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years old, designed to identify those who are at risk for amblyopia and other vision issues.

In a world of service, a great Lion

Madden worked hard but he also enjoyed playing golf, watching Indiana University basketball, attending the Indy 500 -- which he attended from 1960 to the 100th running in 2016 -- and watching his grandchildren do the things that were important to them; whether it was baseball, soccer, football, music, or stage.

PIP Madden with a thank you sign from beneficiaries.
Madden and wife Linda established the Reading For Action literacy program during his presidency.

During his four years as an executive officer, he and Linda traveled more than 300 days a year to 94 countries, with the task of furthering the mission of Lions around the world. This was easy for him, as his warm personality drew people of all walks of life to him.

In recognition of his service to the association, the late Past President received many awards, including the 100% Club President Award, Life Membership in the Association, and the Ambassador of Good Will Award, the highest honor the association bestows upon its members.

His slogan, “In A World of Service,” defined his desire to promote the work of Lions and peace throughout the world.

“We just knew he was going to be a good Lion,” said fellow Lion Jim Mason. “As it turned out, he became a great Lion.”