When Bill and Jean Madren committed to something, it was for the long haul.
For starters, they were together for 67 years, abiding by the ultimate pledge to each other. This was more than enough time for both to make significant contributions to their community neighbors in Elkton, from Bill’s generosity toward youth by funding the construction of basketball courts and playground renovations, to Jean’s background in education, which sparked the creation of scholarships in their names at Spotswood High School and East Rockingham High School.
Jean’s sense of commitment to community even extended to her fight against cancer. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1982, and then with cervical cancer in 1992, she refused to let her condition keep her from completing a 40-year academic career with Harrisonburg and Rockingham County public schools, after which she finally retired in 1996.
In 2006 Jean was found to have bone cancer, which led to a painful life until her death on Jan. 25, 2014, according to her obituary. Bill died on the same date four years later.
The Madrens’ commitment to their community could have ended there. In some respects, however, it was just beginning.
The care Jean received from the Hahn Cancer Center at Sentara RMH Medical Center inspired the couple to leave a generous gift to the RMH Foundation through their estate—an expression of their desire to help others receive the same high-quality treatment.
“They always lived in the local community,” says Erica Martin, Bill’s niece and co-executor of the couple’s estate. “RMH was their hospital. They received years of good care there, and their gift continues to help people in our area.”
A Gift to Heal Tomorrow
Legacy giving through estates has made a transformational impact on the care delivered at Sentara RMH.
The Madrens’ legacy gift is designated for the Hahn Cancer Center, according to Cory Davies, executive director of the RMH Foundation. Such contributions have improved and enhanced care at the Hahn Cancer Center recently in two very meaningful ways. First, philanthropic giving has enabled the purchase of a new linear accelerator, which provides radiation therapy treatments to cancer patients. Second, these gifts help to expand the reach of the Hope Fund, which has assisted patients in various ways since its founding in 2016. The fund supports preventive screenings to detect cancer sooner, medication assistance and the meeting of other unexpected needs.
The Hahn Cancer Center provides about 15,000 treatments per year, according to Davies. Without support from people like the Madrens through the RMH Foundation, these patients would face more difficult financial challenges and wouldn’t necessarily have access to the latest diagnostic and treatment technology.
The fact that the couple left a gift through their estate shows their ongoing commitment to their community. Davies says the Foundation encourages gifts through estates because, with legacy giving, “your kindness today heals tomorrow.”
“When you choose to leave a gift like this to the hospital, that compassionate, kind act establishes a legacy of good health for the community for years to come,” Davies adds.
No Glory Necessary
Martin says Bill Madren was more like a grandfather than an uncle to her, due to the wide age gap between them. The Madrens didn’t have any children and largely kept to themselves.
“When they had each other,” Martin says, “they didn’t need anybody else.”
The couple enjoyed photography, gemstone collecting, gem cutting and making jewelry, according to Bill’s obituary. A native of Alamance County, N.C., he moved with his family to Elkton in time to meet Jean, an area native, at Elkton High School. He became business manager for the local Chevrolet dealer, Hensley Sales and Service, and retired in 1996, the same year his wife finished working as a guidance counselor at Spotswood High School.
Bill was a member of the Elkton volunteer fire and rescue squad companies, both of which also have benefited from his estate. Funds also were directed to Elkton United Methodist Church and Bethel United Church of Christ.
Sentara RMH and the American Cancer Society represented the other primary causes the couple singled out for estate gifts.
“Leaving money to the Hahn Cancer Center was a big part of what they wanted to do with their estate,” Martin says. “Both are well known in the Elkton community for the work they did.”
After Jean died, Bill supported an array of causes, including the establishment of scholarships for high school seniors interested in the arts or education, as well as the funding of a reading room that now bears Jean’s name at East Rockingham High School. He also stepped up to meet a fundraising goal to furnish basketball courts in Elkton.
“He really was generous in that way,” Martin says, “but he didn’t want any of the glory.”
Recognition does not need to be a motivating factor to make a legacy gift to the RMH Foundation, either. “You just need to care about the people around you and have a desire to see future generations get the best medical care possible,” says Davies. “Such commitments can have positive impacts on the community for decades to come.”
Thanks to their generous gifts, the Madrens’ legacy lives on.
“Bill and Jean were very generous both in their lives and after their deaths,” Martin says.
For more information on how to make an estate gift to the RMH Foundation, contact Cory Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit rhcc.plannedgiving.org. Davies says the RMH Foundation also recommends consulting with an attorney or wealth adviser before making a gift.