A visionary and innovator in providing human service to our area

MP.jpgMadge Phillips
May 1916 - May 2006

A woman who championed causes of women, children and the elderly.

Madge became a visionary and innovator in providing human service to our area as Director of the Linn County Health Center (now called the Department of Human Resources Management). Her efforts there resulted in the establishment of the Child Protection Center, located at St. Luke's Hospital, a national recognized program to help protect sexually abused children from the horror of repeated demands to tell their stories.

Her vision also led to more efficiently delivering service to mentally challenged adults by combining three sheltered workshops into one center called Options of Linn County. Because of the consolidation of these workshops, the first floor of the Witwer Building was left vacant. Seeing a need for a growing population of aging citizens in Cedar Rapids, she brought together the funding and guided the development of the Witwer Senior Center as a non-profit agency.

When Madge retired in 1984, it did not slow her work to improve our community. Madge lived a life of advocacy for these issues of women, children and elderly with her service on community boards and committees. Her past Board memberships include Waypoint's Board of Trustees, the Kingston Hill Board, the Four Oaks Emeritus Board, Witwer Senior Center, chair of the Advisory Board for the Child Protection Center, Aging Services (Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee), Social Concerns Committee at First Presbyterian Church, and the Oversight Committee for Foresight 20/20.

Madge received numerous civic and volunteer awards. The Waypoint Madge Phillips Center, a project of the Junior League, was named after her in 1995 because of her work with women and children's issues. She also received the 2001 Cedar Rapids Rotary Community Service Award, 2001 Waypoint Tribute to Women of Achievement Pillar of the Community Award, Volunteer of the Year Award from the American Hospital Association, the Alexis de Toqueville Award from the United Way of America, and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship Award, University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award, Betty Berry Award from the Cedar Rapids Board of Realtors, Women of the Year from Women's Equality Day, JCPenney Outstanding Volunteer Award, Governor's Volunteer of the Year Award and the McKinley School Alumni Award for Community Service. Madge has accomplished all of this and more since returning to Cedar Rapids at an age which most of us might consider retiring.

Madge was born in North English, one of four children, then shortly thereafter moved to Cedar Rapids where her father, Dr. Harry Jones, practiced medicine. She attended Buchanan, McKinley, and the old Washington High School. Madge graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism. While at Iowa, she was a blues singer at the student nightclub. After graduation she went to New York City, took a secretarial course, then on to Chicago where she worked as an assistant to Leo Burnett, the advertising legend. Madge got married while in Chicago, moved to Dundee, Illinois and later moved to California. Looking for work, she answered a blind ad in the Los Angeles Times for a copywriter and it turned out to be for Frederick's of Hollywood, the racy underwear marketers…and she got the job! Madge returned to Cedar Rapids in 1969 and found a job at a local radio station before starting her career in social service as an assistant to the Linn County Health Director.

Madge had three children, Susan, who is married to Tom Kenny, lives in New York City. Robin, who is married to Jim VanderLann, lives in DelMat, California. And Harry who is married to Stephanie, lives in rural Solon. Madge also had six grandchildren.

Madge's work, passion and commitment to the Cedar Rapids community has made it a much better place to live and work.

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