James Singleton Madden

James Singleton Madden was born to Amelia Singleton Madden and James S. Madden on February 27, 1918 at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois by noted physician Dr. Daniel Hale Williams who performed the first open heart surgery in America.

He accepted Christ at an early age and attended Burke Elementary School and Tilden Technical High School, where he exhibited talents for carpentry, music and photography.

James was born into a family of social activists including his Great Grandfather who was a Judge in St. Catherine, Canada and helped with the Under Ground Railroad.  His paternal Grandfather was a very outspoken militant, an original trustee of Provident Hospital and part of Chicago’s elite who with Dr. Charles E. Bentley, a Chicago dentist were the only two Chicagoans that attended the 1905 Niagra Falls Convention led by Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. James maternal Grandfather was the first Black Bailiff in Omaha, Nebraska who married a LaCota Sioux Native American and they had 3 children, Amelia and 2 sons who were dentists and very active in the N.A.A.C.P.  So much so that at an early age James experienced seeing a Klan cross burn on his uncles’s lawn which had a lasting effect on him all his life.

James lived a very exciting and active life and had the entrepreneur spirit.

Early in his life with his friend Mathew they had a company that provided the sound system for some of the greatest musicians in the world including the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Band, Joe Williams, Lionel Hampton, Lurlean Hunter, Nat King Cole and he also took their publicity photographs at his Photography studio in the Pershing Hotel.  Later he worked in politics before moving to the US Virgin Islands to assist his uncle with his businesses, including a coffee shop, cleaners and Villa Fairplain where tourists would stay and dine. James also was an Export Inspector  for the US Virgin Islands and he managed a Coca Cola plant.  After his stay in the Virgin Islands, James returned to Chicago and worked for 25 years as a policeman for the Chicago Transit Authority until he retired.

A dapper gentleman he was married many times, first to June and they had a daughter, Rheatta and he had a son Stuart with his second wife, Dorothy. Preceding him in death was his wife of 35 years, Joyce and they had 3 dogs and a Persian cat.

After Joyce’s death for the last 17 years of his life he has been lovingly cared for by his wife, Florencia and they have enjoyed a Jazz Cruise with Joe Williams and traveling past the Mason Dixie line for a month vacation to Georgia and Florida something he swore he would never do after his Klan experience. Also, James enjoyed eating great food, partying, exercising and enjoying the good life with family and friends.

He leaves great memories for his wife, Florencia Madden, daughter, Rheatta Ratcliff (Charles),son Stuart Madden (Cordella), grandchildren, Kelly and Charles Ratcliff Jr., Justin Madden and 5 great-grandchildren, Kayla. Kai, Jade, Charlie III and Max.,a step-son William James Arnold IV, a step daughter Sari Anduze (Fred) and in-laws Jon Yates, Corliss Vaughn (Tom), Dawn Ham-Ying (Phillip) and a host of nieces and nephews.  There will be a private Jazz Memorial Luncheon with Rev. Dr. Michael C. Carson officiating. Professional services provided by Starks & Menchinger.

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