John Harwood Madison of Richmond, Virginia, entered Heaven on April 6, 2023. His last days were spent at Parham Road Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, surrounded by his loving family. His mother and father, Emma Rennie and Henry Nugent Madison, preceded him in death. Left to cherish his memory are his brother Henry Nugent (Diane) Madison, and sisters Cheryl Madison (Bob) Busse, and Sarah Katherine (Wade) Smith, his nieces and nephews Brandon Smith, Karen Wyatt, Shera Madison, Greg Madison, Cody Madison, a host of great nieces and nephews, and longtime friend, Robert Jones.
John was born on April 26, 1952, in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from Huguenot High School and worked for many years at Thalhimers and then in the grocery and food service industry. He especially loved his work at McDonald’s, where he had many faithful customers. John loved his home on Forest Hill Avenue and lived his entire life on the Madison Family property. He was a faithful, long-time Forest Hill Presbyterian Church member until he was physically unable to attend.
Everyone who knew John loved him. He was the kindest, most generous person to his family, friends, and acquaintances and was willing to help everyone. A big smile was always on his face, and he loved to joke and find humor in everything. Never did he complain, but instead, always said things were fine, even when they weren’t. The physical challenges he faced were overcome daily with his strong will and positive attitude. He never forgot a birthday, anniversary or holiday and was sure to send his best wishes. He loved to sing Happy Birthday (loud and out of tune) to the lucky birthday person. Going to the lake with Kaki and her family, traveling, attending holiday get-togethers, listening to music, having a beer with Robert, following the Washington Redskins, sitting in his yard with friends, his beloved dog, Lucky, and enjoying a big meal were some of John’s greatest joys.
Being close in age, John shared an extraordinary bond with his younger sister, Sarah Katherine (Kaki). The two of them grew up together and she was by his side in his last days. Kaki was always there for John throughout the years, helping him in every way and ensuring his life was good. As kids, they got into mischief together and then worked hard to avoid the dreaded switch Mom would make them go out and pick. John and Kaki spent lots of time next door with Aunt Perta and Uncle John, playing in the woods, going to the neighborhood pool, and riding their bikes up and down the Forest Hill Avenue sidewalk. One of their most cherished past times was playing at the Schwab’s house. Lonny and Marty Schwab were their best bubbies; the four had great childhood adventures. As an adult, John continued to visit their parents for years, even after the boys grew up. When Marty moved back into his childhood home and had his jam sessions, John thoroughly enjoyed going over to listen.
Even into adulthood, John and Kaki always lived close to one another. Kaki was there to celebrate his good times and to keep him in line when needed. She worked tirelessly to help with his physical disabilities and to enable him to live in his beloved home, on the family property until the end. John lived a full life with Kaki as his defender and wingman.
Other people who played a large part in John’s life are his brother-in-law, Wade, and his nephew, Brandon. Wade grew up knowing John and has been there to help throughout his life. They loved to banter back and forth and would always get a good laugh from it. Wade and Brandon were there to help with all the heavy work and helped to entertain John. Wade was the chauffeur for all our family trips and pushed John in his wheelchair when necessary. John and Wade would always ride shotgun in Big Blue (the family traveling car), Wade driving and John eating snacks on our trips to the beach. Wade’s knowledge from working with the rescue squad was helpful in many medical situations. Brandon was there if Kaki needed him in a heartbeat and was always kind and loving toward John. Another person who made John happy was Kristen, Brandon’s fiancée. She was funny, sweet, and compassionate and he loved having her around because she made him feel special.
John always looked forward to his big sister Cheryl’s visits from Arkansas. Her visits always meant family gatherings with Nug, Diane and the rest of the family, and a road trip somewhere. He loved going places and especially loved musical shows and going out to eat.
Robert Jones was John’s roommate for ten years. He helped bring John joy by taking him fishing, playing checkers, and providing everyday companionship. They had good times having drinks and watching TV. Not only was Robert a great friend, but he also alerted Kaki when John needed assistance. He was such a help to Kaki because he kept a close eye on the place and ensured people didn’t come looking for trouble or in some way take advantage of John. John loved Robert’s family too because they were so good to him. He especially loved Robert’s mother, Sadie Jones, and called her Mom Jones. He was welcomed into their home for many Christmas holidays and looked forward to it every year. Robert is a good soul, making John’s life much richer as they shared the good and the bad times together. The family is so grateful to him for being such a good friend and helper to John.
John was a loving, gentle soul who is now joking with the angels just like he loved joking with nurses, waitresses, or anyone around. While his circle on Earth was small, he had the biggest heart of love for others. His star will shine brightly between Emma and Henry and all the family dogs for eternity now, and he will be at peace. We will miss you dearly, John, and will never forget your smile, laughter, and good heart.