Godfrey Madison, 80, teacher, grocer, athlete


Godfrey Madison, a retired Baltimore teacher who later owned two grocery stores, died Thursday of cancer at his home in New York City, where he had lived for several years. He was 80.

Mr. Madison, a resident of Westport in South Baltimore for much of his life, was perhaps known most for his passion for sports. He avidly followed local professional sports and played on area softball teams until he was in his 70s.

"No question that basketball was his best sport. He could handle the ball and he could shoot, too. He never looked his age," said his son, Sam Madison of New York. "He played a lot of softball, was athletic and could show the young boys a thing or two on the basketball courts. He played elbow defense."

Mr. Madison was a referee in city summer recreation leagues and often officiated at high school games. Friends said he preferred to referee "peewee" games because he could stop play and give instruction.

"He was a big kid at heart and at that level [peewee games], when there was little or nothing riding on the games, he would stop [play] and be a second coach," said Michael Kennedy, a longtime friend.

Mr. Madison was a stickler about sportsmanship and had little tolerance for youngsters' bad court manners.

"He never threw any kid out of a game, but he'd scold them in a heartbeat," Mr. Kennedy said. "They'd know he meant business. He'd teach you, but he'd also make sure you learned sportsmanship as well as how to dribble."

Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York, Mr. Madison served in the Army from 1935 to 1938. He received his bachelor's degree from New York University in the early 1950s and taught for several years in New York.

He came to Baltimore in the late 1950s and taught math and science at what is now Pimlico Middle School before quitting in about 1970 to open a grocery store in the Park Heights community.

"He was the type of old-time merchant who actually let people touch the merchandise and didn't have the 4-inch window between him and his customers," his son said. "He was a people's merchant who interacted with and trusted his customers."

He opened a second store in Westport in 1972. He closed both stores in the mid-1980s and moved to New York about 1994.

Mr. Madison belonged to the Masonic Lodge, the American Legion and was a past member of the Westport Business Organization.

Services were held yesterday in New York.

In addition to his son, Mr. Madison is survived by his wife, Cecelia Brice, whom he married in 1942; another son, Jeffrey Madison of Baltimore; two daughters, Malinda Wilson of New York and Jennifer Hill of Florida; a brother, Weldon Madison of New York; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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