AUBURN — Wayne Madden, an Auburn city councilman and former president of Lions Clubs International, died Saturday, according to Lions Clubs International.
The organization said online that Madden suffered a cardiac arrest on May 24 and did not recover.
He was appointed to the Auburn Common Council seat representing District 1 in October 2016 to fill a vacancy and won re-election in November 2019.
Last fall, Madden said serving on the council is “a good way for me to pay back to a town that’s been very good to me.”
He was born and raised in Auburn and earned degrees from Manchester College and Indiana University.
After five years as a teacher at Eastside High School, Madden entered the insurance business and eventually opened his own agency in Auburn, operating it for 26 years.
From 2010-2014, Madden served as an executive officer of Lions Clubs International, leading to a year as international president in 2012-2013. He took office in Busan, Korea, at the Lions Clubs International 95th Annual Convention.
As president, he guided the efforts of 1.35 million Lions around the world, including 400,000 in the United States — the largest membership of any service organization in the world.
During his year as international president, Madden and his wife, Linda, traveled the world, visiting 95 nations and meeting with their leaders, as well as with former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
He followed his term with a year as chairman of the Lions Clubs International Foundation, with assets of approximately $500 million. He traveled to Bogota, Columbia, with Carter to promote a project to combat river blindness. Locally, he secured a $100,000 grant from the International Lions Foundation to build the DeKalb Area Rural Transit garage in Auburn for the DeKalb County Council on Aging.
A crusade to raise literacy throughout the world was the focus of Madden’s year as international president of Lions Clubs. World leaders of Lions Clubs voted to extend Madden’s literacy campaign for at least 10 years.
“I never had any idea that it would catch on like it has around the world,” Madden said about his emphasis on literacy. He said illiteracy is a problem “not only in developing countries, but right here, in our own country.”
In 2008, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels recognized Madden’s humanitarian service by making him a Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor a governor can bestow.
Madden joined the Lions in 1984. “At that time, I had seen the kind of people that were in the Auburn Lions Club. They were the type of people you’d want to emulate, a good group of men,” he said. He added that he thought the Lions would be “a good avenue for me to give back to my local community.”
Madden later became president of the Indiana Lions Foundation and established screening of Hoosier children for lazy eye disorder.
“It’s just a passion for what we do in Lions — a passion to serve needy people around the world,” that motivated him, Madden said.
“The more you do, the more you see the need to do, the more that you would like to do,” Madden once said of Lions’ charity work.