Katherine Ann Madden, 69, of Ardmore, a skilled and compassionate nurse and one of the first to treat AIDS patients in their homes in Philadelphia, died Monday, July 12, of lung cancer at Lankenau Medical Center.
“She not only treated the patients, but she treated their families,” said Betty Madden, a cousin. “She was a rock. She was always hopeful and optimistic. She never lied to them about how they were doing. But she let them know she was there to help them the best she could.”
Ms. Madden was born Aug. 13, 1951, in Bryn Mawr, the middle of three children born to Robert Carr Madden and Eleanor Allen Madden. Her father was the postmaster at the Ardmore Post Office and her mother was a private duty nurse.
After graduating from Haverford High School, Ms. Madden earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, her cousin said.
Ms. Madden was not only an advocate for patients, she said, but often accompanied members of her own extended family to the hospital to serve as a liaison between medical staff and relatives when another family member was seriously ill.
According to her cousin, Ms. Madden was an “old soul” who even as a young child had seemed older than her years. That’s because Ms. Madden was seen as a problem solver, practical and self-reliant during her early years.
Her cousin said she may have become a nurse not only because that was her mother’s profession, but also because she was the child of two working parents who relied on her to keep an eye on her older sister, who had Type I diabetes.
After college, Ms. Madden focused more on community nursing than on working in a hospital. She was employed by a visiting nurses association whose RNs followed up with patients at their homes.
When AIDS spread in the 1980s, Ms. Madden had no qualms about taking care of patients during a time of widespread fear and hostility directed at people who had AIDS or the virus that caused it.
“But it never fazed Katherine,” Betty Madden said. “She was perfectly suited for it.”
In her spare time, Ms. Madden loved taking care of the cats she adopted.
“Katherine saw beauty in wild things,” her cousin wrote in a description of her. “She knew the eagles on the upper Delaware who nested across from where she lived; watched deer swim from the island off shore. She was glued to the eagle camera as babies hatched, and their mother fed them.”
When she began having limited mobility due to her illness, she continued to feed the birds that came to her yard through a system of pulleys. She also loved to garden and preferred to talk with her friends over the telephone rather than communicating by typing messages over the internet.
In addition to her cousin, Ms. Madden is survived by other relatives.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked for memorial donations to the Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, 328 Upper Gulph Rd., Radnor, Pa. 19087.
Burial will be private.