James J. Madell (1936-2021)

We are honored to name our giving society to commemorate the lifetime generosity of James J. Madell.

James J. Madell, “Jim,” became donor #3 at the Community Foundation when he created the Sister Lucy Education Fund for St. Patrick School. Having been a lifelong member of St. Patrick’s Church and graduating from both St. Patrick Grade School and St. Teresa High school, he truly valued his Catholic education and wanted to provide that benefit to others.

Sister Lucy Spinner came to St. Patrick School in the 1940s and was the school principal for most of her 50-year career in Decatur. She left an impression on young Jim that lasted a lifetime. A scholarship fund that would honor her and provide others with the opportunity to have the educational experience that he had was exactly what Jim was hoping to create.

His vision was that a portion of the earnings from the endowed scholarship fund would be used each year to provide full scholarships until ultimately all children who wished to attend St. Patrick School could. Knowing that this was a lofty goal, Jim included the Sister Lucy Education Fund for St. Patrick Grade School in his estate plan.

In 2005 the first full scholarship to St. Patrick School was awarded. Since then, 129 full scholarships have been provided to students at St. Patrick thanks to Jim’s generosity.

Jim’s passion for helping others wasn’t only demonstrated through financial gifts. He also volunteered his time to help others and was a good friend. “Captain Jim” also provided summer boat rides on Lake Decatur for many foundation staff and never forgot a birthday. His humor made us smile and his stories made us laugh out loud.

By establishing this scholarship fund, Jim not only enriched the lives of many students, he touched the lives of all who knew him at the Community Foundation. Jim passed away on May 15, 2021, and will forever be remembered.