Holly Williams Madigan
1940 - 2020
After a wonderful healthy life of daily exercise and a strong faith, Holly dealt with three spinal surgeries, cancer and Parkinson's Disease, all in the last 10 years. It devastated her in what was supposed to be her "Golden Years" and she passed away Sunday September 20. However, she never lost her love of her family, her friends and her faith. Those three pillars of support brought her through this period of her life marked with health issues. She may have wondered "why all this? And "why me?" but she never complained.

Life began for Holly on December 21, 1940 in Evanston and ended in Winnetka, Illinois on September 20, 2020. The Williams family included her late parents Dorothy and Griff Williams, the famous orchestra leader, and her sisters Wendy Sadler and Lynne Twist and brother Griff Williams.

Holly attended Evanston Township High School and then Pine Manor Junior College for a year and returned home to Evanston when her father passed away. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1962 with a degree in Education and Spanish. With her beauty and poise she had a successful career in modeling during this time and travelled to Brazil and Spain which inspired her Spanish language studies. She began teaching Spanish and Journalism in the Wilmette schools and married John W. Madigan in November, 1962 and honeymooned in Mexico.

Her children Mark Madigan (Stephanie), Griff Madigan and Melanie Madigan-Nordby (Erik) became her focus after three years of teaching. Her thoughtful support, advice and coaching were very important to the career of her husband of 57 years.

Holly had many interests but foreign affairs and foreign travel, sometimes with adventure involved, were her favorites. The more off beat countries intrigued her and she traveled to many far off and hard to get to places. Of course, she also loved the more comfortable locations that might have a shop or two and great food. She was always thinking of the next great trip to celebrate a milestone in the family.

Holly loved volunteering and spent very meaningful time helping others and planning philanthropic events. She was past president of the Rush University Medical Center Woman's Board, past Chairman of the Family Institute at Northwestern University, a Trustee of the Ravinia Festival, a member of the Smithsonian Institution National Board, a founding board member of Pathways.org, and the women's boards at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Holly approached these activities with much grace and elegance and was admired for this by the staffs and colleagues she worked with. She showered her family with love and compassion and adored her seven grandchildren Will, Ward, Luke, Patrick and Isabelle Madigan and Olive and Cooper Nordby. And her many friends surrounded her with love and affection especially during the difficult last years of her life.

Special appreciation is given for her devoted friend Marcia, who visited her nearly every day and for the outstanding caregivers, Karen, Anne, Aiza and Czarina and all of the talented specialists that worked to make her life better in face of a daunting disease.

Holly's last words were "When are we going home?" Well, she is at home and at peace and comfort with the Lord. Because of COVID, a family only service will be held.

In her own thoughtful way, Holly would not ask for a monetary remembrance but she would hope that friends would do something kind for someone else in need. That would greatly please her.

To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Chicago Tribune from Sep. 25 to Sep. 27, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Add a Message
26 Entries
Sorry to hear the news. May she rest in peace. The Williams family was my second family for many years.
Jay Lamy
November 6, 2020
Marlene Phillips
October 6, 2020
Herbert Wander
September 30, 2020
Karen and I were sorry to hear of Holly's passing. Our deepest condolences to you and your family during this most difficult time. Karen and Herb Wander
Karen and Herbert Wander
September 30, 2020
Condolences. Sorry for your loss. Barbara Herman
Barbara Herman
September 30, 2020
Mary Ainsley
September 29, 2020
Madigan Family, I am so sorry to hear of Mrs. Madigan's passing.
She was a gentle loving and generous lady, always ready to help
people who needed help. I hope you are able to find comfort knowing she is now in peace surrounded by angels above.

Nila Abrehan
September 29, 2020
Dear John and family,
It was an honor and privilege to know beautiful, gracious Holly and to be her next door neighbor. Our heart and thoughts are with you at this time of grief and mourning. We will remember her fondly. Blessings.
Roger and Pam Phillips Weston
September 29, 2020
Dear John and Family,
My deepest sympathy is expressed to you and the family. I will always remember Holly as a very thoughtful and kind friend. She brought joy to her many friends and worked diligently to support the goals and endeavors of the Rush Woman’s Board. Through the years her grace
and love were felt. May God bless the peace and joy her presence brings to heaven.
Murrell Duster
Murrell Duster
September 28, 2020
Alice Topping
September 28, 2020
This is a beautiful tribute to a truly beautiful woman. Holly Madigan was an outstanding role model for all women of all ages. My deepest sympathy to her wonderful family. Judy Fahrenkrog
Judy Fahrenkrog
September 28, 2020
christine ellett
September 28, 2020
Holly had us over to her home for many holidays. We had lots of great times in her pool, eating her delicious food and at cubs games. She was always very gracious to our family! We had lots of good times in her home. She was always very welcoming and generous! I send my condolences to the entire family. Leslie Sills
Leslie Sills
September 27, 2020
Holly was always so kind and lovely to us all. She was a very special lady. Our condolences to the Madigan family. Our hearts are with you.
Stephanie Rogers
September 27, 2020
It was an honor taking care of you Ma'am Holly, a selfless and generous human being with the kindest soul. I will miss you.
To the Madigan Family, praying for strength and courage during this difficult time.

Karen Hebron

September 27, 2020
Katharine Hebron
September 27, 2020
My sincerest condolences to your family for the loss of your loved one, Please except my deepest sympathies.
Simone Taylor
September 27, 2020
Please accept my deepest sympathy. Holly is among my happy Tribune memories. All who loved her are in my thoughts and prayers.
Margaret Carroll
September 27, 2020
Dear Madigan Family,
So sorry for your loss, Holly put up a valiant fight against her health issues. My deepest condolences to you all. RIP dear Holly Fondly, Sue Austin
Sue Austin
September 27, 2020
Close friends of Griff and family. My sincere condolences
September 26, 2020
We share in your grief at this difficult time. May the love of those around you help you through the days ahead. Rest In Peace our dear Mrs M. With deep sympathies and condolences from Hebron Family
Ritz Hebron
September 25, 2020
John, and family - My sincere condolences and sympathy in your loss of
your wonderful wife and mother.

Sam Mirza
September 25, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Ron and Roberta Kamp
September 25, 2020
Dear John and Family,
i was sad to learn that Holly died.
Anything that I can say or do at a time like this will give you much comfort. I like to remember all the happy times we had together.
You and your entire Family have my deepest and sincerest sympathy ,
Liz Stiffel
Lisbeth Stiffel
September 25, 2020
Please accept my condolences . I'm so sorry for the loss of your loved one. May the word of God comfort and strengthen you. 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17
September 24, 2020
Claire Stickney
September 24, 2020