Deborah Russell Whitlock Madden passed away at Smilow Cancer Hospital on February 22, 2023 after a three year struggle against cancer. Debbie, as she was known to her friends, and Ganna, as she was known to her six grandchildren, was born on May 9, 1947 and spent her childhood in Woodbridge. She was the youngest of three daughters born to the late Reverdy and Martha Russell Whitlock. She attended Center School and Amity High School in Woodbridge before going to her Mother’s alma mater, Bradford Junior College where she sang in the choral group and graduated with honors. She then attended Connecticut College where she was a member of the dance group, again graduating with honors in 1969.
Later that summer in 1969, she and Patrick Madden were married. They moved to Boston where she began her career developing tax expertise working for the IRS. When her husband entered the Army, she moved back to Woodbridge transferring to the IRS office in New Haven. When Pat returned from his military training, she joined the New Haven law firm of Wiggin & Dana as a paralegal specializing in trusts and estates. In 1976, Debbie entered the University of Connecticut Law School, graduating with distinction in 1981. Upon graduation, she returned to Wiggin & Dana as its first part-time junior associate. She continued her work in the trust and estate field for the balance of her career. During her working years, Debbie was an active member of the Junior League of Greater New Haven, served on the Board of Directors of the New Haven YWCA, and volunteered at Planned Parenthood.
Debbie was, above all else, a family person. She loved her time with her sisters and parents, and with her three children, and then later, with their families as they grew and found their places in the world. She was so very proud of her children, the people they had grown to become, the people they had chosen to be their spouses, and their core values of compassion, integrity, and hard work. Christmas and Maine summer vacations at Goose Rocks Beach were her two favorite times of the year, but she also loved gardening, ski weekends in Vermont, knitting or needle pointing gifts for her children and grandchildren, and tennis with friends at the New Haven Lawn Club. Debbie loved the planning most of all. Her love for organizing and planning also extended to all parts of the family’s life : family vacations to Arizona, Wyoming, Italy, Mexico, and England, her children’s schooling, holidays, weddings, menus and family finances. She also loved the dogs that added so much to family life: Fairfax, Oliver, and Walter. Small or elaborate, she was in the middle of it all.
Debbie was predeceased by her sister Martha Whitlock Freeman, and is survived by her sister Susan Ballou, her husband Pat, her children and their families: Katie and Kevin Kavanagh (Maeve and Macy Jane), Betsy Madden and Carlos Pantoja (Téo and Alessandro), and Robert Madden and Kara Zarchin (Conor and Laurel).
A memorial service will be held at First Church of Christ Woodbridge on Sunday, March 5, 2023 at 3:30 pm. A reception will follow at the Church Parish House.