Sheldon Madden, age 81, of Ashdown, AR passed away early Wednesday morning. He began working at a young age. He worked for Leonard Swint at a local garage to made money for his family. Working for family was a consistent theme in his life. In 1943 he graduated from high school in Hall Summit, LA and went to Shreveport to find employment. In 1944 he met his wife, Ruby, while working for Rose-Neath Funeral Home in Shreveport. In those days, funeral homes also took care of ambulance services to their area. Ruby was waiting for her aunt to be transported to a hospital in Dallas. She agreed to ride along with Sheldon on the trip and they were married within a few months. He was drafted that same year into the army and returned from Europe in late 1945. Sheldon then finished his degree in mortuary science at Commonwealth Institute in Houston, TX and began his career in funeral directing. After working for Rose-Neath, he held positions at First National Funeral Homes in Opelousas, LA and Natchitoches, LA. He also served as a funeral director at several Kilpatrick Funeral Home locations in north Louisiana. While managing the funeral home in Natchitoches, he began his own sawmill and railroad crosstie businesses. In January 1959, he moved his family to Memphis and worked as a salesman for Lufkin Trailers. Sheldon was the number one salesman in the entire trailer division and traveled cross-country on business frequently. In 1962, he opened his own trailer manufacturing plant, Madden Manufacturing, in Ashdown,AR and sold the trailers in West Memphis before deciding to move his family to Ashdown in 1963. Being a self-made businessman, he was always looking for the next business opportunity and purchased Phillips Funeral Home in August 1966 and later changed the name to Madden Funeral Home. Insurance always fascinated Sheldon, and in April 1970 he acquired Howard Burial and Life Insurance Company from his friends H.H. and Nola Howard. After renaming the insurer Guaranty National Insurance Company, he worked hard to grow “his little insurance company” and traveled almost constantly to recruit agents and funeral homes to sell his products. First Guaranty Insurance Company, as it is known today, is still owned by the Madden family and has grown into a multi-state insurer as a result of Sheldon’s efforts. Throughout his successes, he always helped others and made significant contributions to such causes as FFA, Shriner’s, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, He also served on the boards of Little River Memorial Hospital and Little River Nursing Home for 27 years.
Survivors include his wife Ruby, his son and daughter-in-law, Jack and Rosemary Madden of Ashdown, AR; three sisters, Bernice Box of Coushatta, LA, Lucille Hicks of Texarkana, TX, and Helen Eichelberger of Shreveport, LA; four grandchildren and grandchildren-in-law, Jack & Paula Madden, David & Amy Madden, Diane & Kirk Babb, and Lynda & Ward Cobb all of Ashdown, AR; six great-grandchildren, Jennifer Cowling, Heather Rae Madden, Boyd Kennemore, Zayne Madden, Hudson Madden and Maddox Cobb; two great-grandchildren, Jordan Cowling and Judd Kennemore.
Visitation will be held Thursday from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. at Madden Funeral Home.
Funeral services will be held Friday, 2:00 P.M., at Madden Funeral Home Chapel with interment at Ashdown Memorial Gardens; Rev. Tim Perkins officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Texarkana, P.O. Box 7812, Texarkana, TX 75505.