Mary Massey Madison
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June 2, 1931 - May 1, 2014Mary Madison, an award winning newspaper reporter, died of heart failure at Stanford Hospital on May 1 after several years of declining health. She was 82.
Her 40-year career as a reporter spanned from the old Palo Alto Times to later the Redwood City Tribune and the Peninsula Times Tribune. She also worked as an adjunct instructor of journalism at Stanford University and as a correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner, United Press International and ultimately the San Francisco Chronicle before retiring in 1997.
She was well known for her penetrating coverage of Stanford and for the Times and the Times Tribune gaining circulation on every beat she covered for them.
Her awards included a Pulitzer Prize honorable mention for a continuing story in 1979 about the government's efforts to classify the manufacture of nuclear weapons, even though the process was publicly available. The source for her report headlined "How to Build an A-Bomb in Your Garage" was a Palo Alto resident who gained his knowledge in public libraries. She also directed a Times Tribune team in covering a 1987 tower apartment fire in Redwood City and wrote the story on deadline, winning the paper a California Newspaper Publishers Association First Place Award for Spot News Coverage.
In addition to her hard news coverage, she enjoyed the lighter side of the news. In 1983, she attended a press reception on the Royal Yacht Britannia when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited California. In a brief chat, she told the Queen that, outside a lunch later in the week hosted by Stanford's President Kennedy, the Stanford Band would be playing Beatles tunes. The Queen responded, "Oh, I am so glad to know what they will be playing." Mrs. Madison's story of the encounter, one of only two first person stories she ever wrote, was a sell-out for the Times Tribune.
A life long Peninsula resident, she was the second baby and first girl born in what was then the new Palo Alto Hospital (later Hoover Pavilion at Stanford). She grew up in Burlingame and, after attending Stanford, where she earned an A.B. in journalism, lived with her family in Menlo Park.
Her career as a journalist was inspired by her father, the late Charles F. Massey. He was managing editor of the old San Francisco News and later executive editor of the Yakima, Washington dailies before ending his career with the San Jose Mercury News.
She is survived by her husband James Madison, to whom she was married for 60 years after serving with him as Stanford Daily editors; by three children, including Michael, a professor of law at University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; Matthew of Denver, Colorado; and Molly Caouette of Sacramento; and by three grandchildren, Kate, Dave and Carly.
A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held at St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Menlo Park at 2 p.m. on July 22 followed by a reception.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from June 13 to June 15, 2014