Linda Madden Hughes
1939 ~ 2017
Linda Madden Hughes passed away as Thursday faded into Friday at midnight, July 7, 2017, after a long illness, with her children at her bedside at the Skilled Nursing Society of Barton Memorial Hospital, yards from where both of her children were born. She was 78.
Beloved by a wide swath of people she met, from vendors to hospital staff, she leaves behind an uncommon diversity of the bereaved. She loved Bach, complex choral music, animals, getting her hands dirty in her and others’ gardens, her late husband Michael, her children, her grandchildren, reading, and debate. She loathed ignorance, laziness, most popular music, and the heat.
Linda Tansky Madden Hughes, as she would introduce herself on the phone to old friends with whom she had not spoken in many years, was born on March 26, 1939, at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles to a Jewish, immigrant father, who was born in Montreal of an orthodox family, and to a midwestern, Jewish mother from Sioux City, Iowa. She would spend most of her adult life in Northern California.
By age twenty-five, Mrs. Hughes had addressed her asthma (her parents had moved to Tujunga in the Los Angeles area to accommodate her medical condition); paid her way through her first degree at University of California, Los Angeles (and was the first college graduate in her family); typed composer Igor Stravinsky’s autobiography; founded the Musical Comedy Workshop at UCLA; sang with two prestigious choir directors (Gregg Smith, with whom she toured Europe in 1962, and Roger Wagner); earned a lifelong teaching credential; had Senator John Kennedy apologize to her for stepping on her foot at one of his events; and eloped to Las Vegas, Nevada, with her first husband, David H. Madden.
She followed Mr. Madden to the place he’d wanted to live since he was a child, Tahoe, and adopted it as her own, quickly insinuating herself into the body of cultural life in South Lake Tahoe, California, a city which did not exist until the year they moved there in 1965. By age fifty, she’d had two children; taught in both two public districts and two private schools at the Lake; earned a paralegal certificate; established a home-visit pet-care business (Love ‘em and Leave ‘em); earned her landscaping contractor license for her business Tulip (Tahoe’s Unique Landscaping Implementation Person); conducted the Reno Philharmonic; founded and then directed for eighteen years the Tahoe Choir (a group good enough to get to Carnegie Hall—four times); staged and performed in many musicals staged or mounted by said choir (frequently lassoing both of her children frequently for crowd scenes) and appeared in another production company as the dream-ghost Fruma-Sarah from Fiddler on the Roof, which scared the living daylights out of her son when she had on her makeup; led a movement that permanently preserved land behind her home as US Forest land; been caught by Sammy Davis Jr. stealing pastries for her children at Harrah’s New Year’s Eve’s party; earned an M.A.Ed. at the University of Nevada, Reno, abandoned a terrarium business, taught dozens of children piano, arranged for the best public school teachers available for her children, and terrified several local politicians into submission, rage, and tears.
At fifty, the then divorced Ms. Madden moved off “the hill” for better teaching wages in Vallejo, and lived first in Crockett, then Benecia, but kept her Tahoe home, 681 Tahoe Island Drive. In 1990, she met through a singles club the love of her life, the charming Englishman Michael George Hughes, with whom she was inseparable until his death in January of 2016, and who made it possible for them to remain in their Tahoe home for many years as both her attentive husband and caregiver. In 2006, her landscaping company was awarded the “Best of Tahoe” for landscaping. In this work, she employed dozens, from Rene Martinez, who then went on to have his own landscaping company, to Jerod Haase, now the head coach of Stanford’s men’s basketball team.
She taught for a decade in Vallejo before retiring to her and Mike’s home in South Lake Tahoe, and where even in illness after 2009, she remained an untopple-able pillar of her community.
Linda Hughes is survived by her son Kevin A. Madden of San Francisco, her daughter Melissa Andersen and son-in-law David Andersen of Rocklin, California, two grandchildren Jordan and Kylee, sisters Shari Jeffress and Roberta Rosenthal and their spouses, both of Southern California, her cousins David, Michael, Frank, Reesa, Roni, Scott, their spouses, and her many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.
She created this list of charities in her will; her family asks that you consider making a donation in her name, in lieu of flowers:
1. Habitat for Humanity
2. Project Hope
3. Lake Tahoe Wildlife
4. South Lake Tahoe Humane Society
5. World Wildlife Fund
6. Heifer International
7. Doctors Without Borders
8. Nature Conservancy
9. Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue
10. Friends of the South Lake Tahoe Library
Services will held at the home of a friend of hers who is a singer in the Tahoe Choir. Her family and friends are planning the September event, and request you sign up by August 15th at https://lindatanskymaddenhughesmemorial.blogspot.com/.
The venue, time, and place for her memorial will then be posted on that page, and those using the sign-up list there will also be notified.
Her children would particularly like to thank her long-time, loving, extraordinary friends whom she loved and adored at the Lake, those who called and visited her in the final years of her life, and the phenomenally competent and compassionate staff of Barton Memorial Hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility, most of whom were able to see through her “tough-cookie” exterior to know the real Linda.