DALLAS, Texas — Genevieve Muench Madigan, 103, passed away at her home Monday, June 29, 2020 in Dallas, Texas, surrounded by family. She was a few weeks shy of her 104th birthday.
She was born on July 20, 1916 in Chicago, the youngest of Walter and Helene (née Twohig) Muench’s four children. She was baptized at the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Chicago, where she later attended grade school. As a child, she loved spending summers at her family’s rustic cabin on Otter Lake in Eagle River, Wisconsin. As a young woman, Genevieve worked alongside her brothers and father at the famed Santa Fe Building on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. She often spent her lunch hour at The Chicago Museum of Art. These visits ignited her love for museums of all kinds. A fascination she would carry all her life.
While working for Santa Fe Railways, she met Thomas Joseph Madigan. They married on July, 8, 1939 and enjoyed a lively social life filled with lots of music and dancing. Their two eldest, Sheila and Kathy, were born while they lived in Wilmette. They then moved to Wichita, Kansas, where they made lifelong friends. It was here that their sons, Dennis and Michael, were born. In the summer of 1948, Tom’s work took them to Dallas, Texas, where their children, Terry and Mary Helen, were born.
Genevieve and Tom remained in Dallas where they became stalwart members of the community. They were devout Catholic. She never missed her weekly Mass at Holy Trinity Church in Dallas where all six of her children attended grade school. Even during her extensive travels, she made certain to find the local parish for Mass. She was an avid reader and almost anyone who knew her has a memory of her sitting in her favorite chair, under her reading lamp, devouring a book, often of the mystery genre. Along with her love for reading, she had a deep thirst for knowledge, notably politics and current events. She was always tuning into the local news, cutting out clippings in the newspaper and holding on to magazines of historical and cultural significance. She also loved to cheer on the local sports team. No matter what time of year she made certain to keep up with baseball, football and basketball games, savoring their victories, but staying loyal during their slumps. Genevieve’s extensive volunteer work was also of great importance to her. Whether as the President of the Mother’s Club at her children’s school or Meals on Wheels, a candy striper at the hospital, or her time at St. Vincent’s Center, she cherished and always made time for volunteering wherever she could.
But without a doubt Genevieve’s greatest legacy was matriarch to her giant brood of adoring children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. She never forgot a birthday and celebrated each milestone. She had a unique talent to take each event and commemorate them with her playful talent for poetry, leaving her family with a large volume of her rhymes, memorializing their incredible occasions. Her family lovingly referred to her as Grammy or Gigi. While the family resides from Washington State to Paris, New Orleans to Brooklyn, she never missed a chance to visit, but most of all the family loved to come together to celebrate her. The family reunions and Thanksgiving dinners required ballrooms large enough to seat over a 100. The merriment of these celebrations brought joy to all.
Anyone who knew her would remark on her wonderful sense of humor. She had a keen wit, knew not to take things too seriously, and always maintained a natural ability to remain present and grateful for her blessings, even when the world around her presented hurt or chaos. It was this capability that she attributed to remaining so calm and healthy late into her years. As she aged, she still made time for her health, both mental and physical: water aerobics and “sit and fit” classes at the YMCA, Bridge Clubs, fruitful discussions at her favorite restaurants, local theater performances and traveling to destinations near and far. She never missed a chance to see her loved one’s graduate, play sports, get married, be baptized or just to have a party.
Genevieve held on to her independence until her final days, living at home alone. She was a self-determined woman who took great pride in her ability to remain courageous and overcome any obstacle. She beat cancer. Suffered great loss. Survived a heart attack. Watched the world endure many hardships. But she overcame it all, and did so with a smile and unbelievable serenity.
Genevieve is proceeded in death by her husband, Tom (1988); son, Terry (2007); siblings, Jimmy, Morgan and Mary; and three great-grandchildren, Anna, Joseph and Jack.
She is survived by her five children, Sheila (Anthony) Levatino of Fairview, Texas, Kathy Hollonbeck of Rochelle, Mary Helen (Howard) Martin of Denton, Texas, Dennis (Nancy) of Bernallio, New Mexico, and Michael (Dixie) of Dallas, Texas; 20 grandchildren; 51 great-grandchildren; and 11 great-great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and friends from near and far.
Her legacy will live on in each of them as a strong, independent, brilliant, generous and hilarious lady who always had a flair for her impeccable fashion particularly her unique sunglasses and fabulous jewelry. No one will ever forget the sound of her adorable giggle.
Private services are planned for the family. The family has asked that memorials be made to the charity of choice.