Marvin Madsen

Obituary of Marvin Madsen

LCDR Marvin Dewey Madsen, USN Retired

We celebrate the life of Marvin Madsen who made his final flight West peacefully in Bellingham, Washington after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Marvin was born in Fresno, California to Edward George Madsen of La Bolte, South Dakota and Dorothy Lucille (Smith) Madsen of Ames, Iowa.  Marvin and his two younger brothers, Stanley and George, spent an adventurous childhood growing up in small government villages near Yosemite and Mount Shasta, California helping their Forest Ranger father oversee mountain fire lookouts, often riding together in the back of a pickup over logging roads to work.  Hiking, monthly provision runs to Fresno, 5 cent ice cream cones, and a loving family filled his days. Marvin earned the highest rank of Eagle Scout prior to graduating from Claremont High School in 1950. He attended both Chaffey Junior College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he graduated in 1956 with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. It was while attending Cal Poly that he began his love affair with aviation, earning his pilot’s license and competing on the school’s Mustang Flying Club.  Realizing that his passion was airplanes, Marvin earned his commission in the United States Navy in 1957 and the coveted “Wings of Gold” in 1959 from Pensacola, Florida. He served with valor and distinction earning numerous medals as a Naval Aviator flying both the A-1 Sky Raider and A-4 Sky Hawk attack aircraft from the decks of America’s most vaunted carriers including the USS Enterprise, Kitty Hawk, and Midway during his three combat tours to Vietnam. Marvin also relished teaching new Naval Aviators in the T-34 and T-28 training aircraft over the course of his twenty years serving our nation. His marvelous and often harrowing  stories flying the “meatball” to over 500 carrier landings following  dangerous missions will be sorely missed by all. He was married to Mary Ellen Dennison with whom he raised his two daughters, Annie and Valerie. In retirement Marvin enjoyed woodworking, photography, sports, and visiting with his family, friends, and neighbors. He was awarded the “Cultural Ambassador Lifetime Achievement Award” through his more than 19 years hosting foreign exchange students in his home. After moving to Bellingham, Washington in 2012, Marvin volunteered at the Heritage Flight Museum and enjoyed family outings as well as frequent travel with his daughter Annie and grandchildren, Bryn and Dylan. Marvin will be remembered for his gentlemanly civility and easygoing nature. He was more comfortable behind the camera lens than in front of it. He had a wonderful sense of humor, appreciated life’s beauty, and was an American patriot to the end. He is survived by daughter Anne Madsen-Boydstun, Grandchildren Bryn and Dylan Boydstun, of Bellingham, Washington; daughter Valerie Madsen, son-in-law Weston Miller, grandsons Casey and Joe Miller of Portland, Oregon as well as his two brothers and their wives: Stanley and Sharron Madsen of Rancho Bernardo, California and George and Sandra Madsen of Costa Mesa, California; dear friends Peggy and Lynn Killian of Bakersfield, California and numerous nieces and cousins.  LCDR Madsen will be interred with full military honors at Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego, California. Memorial gifts would be gratefully received at the Lummi Island Heritage Trust, PO Box 158, Lummi Island, WA 98262 or Mount Baker Theater, a non-profit dedicated to providing excellent performing arts to the Pacific Northwest, 104 North Commercial St., Bellingham, WA 98225. Please sign the Book of Memories, light a candle and leave your condolences for the family at www.JernsFH.com