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Remembering John W. Madden Jr.

John W. Madden Jr.
April 12, 1929 – January 19, 2024

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of MOA Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus, John W. Madden Jr., a beloved figure in our family and community and a source of inspiration for many. Mr. Madden’s 94 year life journey was marked by dedication, compassion, generosity and a relentless pursuit of excellence in all that he set out to accomplish. He left this world on January 19, 2024, leaving behind a legacy that will forever shape the Denver community and the lives of those that he touched.


Above: Mr. Madden at his award winning Greenwood Plaza development, Harlequin Plaza.

John Worthington Madden Jr., 94, passed away peacefully from natural causes on January 19, 2024 at his home in Greenwood Village, CO. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska on April 12, 1929 to John Worthington Madden Sr., and Doris Pinkerton Madden.

John graduated from Benson High School in Omaha. He and Marjorie Putt Madden were married in 1950, while he attended the University of Nebraska. John then went on to co-found Pinkerton, Madden, Burford Insurance before creating the John Madden Company in the late 1960s. John Madden Company rapidly advanced to become a major commercial real estate development firm. After several successful development projects in Omaha, Iowa, and California, he relocated the company to Colorado in the 1970s, with the commercial development focus on the over 300 contiguous acres procured in Greenwood Village. The company built over 10-million square feet of office and mixed-use space in its over sixty-year history, including in Detroit, Michigan and was known for its innovative mix of art, architecture and landscaping, along with thoughtful master planning that included the Greenwood Athletic Club (Club Greenwood), the Museum of Outdoor Arts, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, and  restaurants and parks.

He enjoyed passing his vast business acumen down the family line and worked closely on several development projects with his son, J. Madden and daughter, Cynthia Madden Leitner.

In addition to his business ventures, Mr. Madden was an avid supporter of education, the arts, and health and fitness. He co-founded the Museum of Outdoor Arts, with his wife, Marjorie P. Madden and daughter, Cynthia Madden Leitner. He and his son J. developed Club Greenwood, a premier athletic club in Greenwood Village. John also founded the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts and the Madden Museum, which houses an extensive world-class art collection. This collection was generously contributed to the University of Denver in 2016. Furthermore, he enjoyed supporting education through generous gifts to Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain, the Boy Scouts of America and many other educational institutions.

Above all else, Mr. Madden was a devoted family man. Loyal as ever, he championed his family to succeed in all aspects of their lives and gave his relentless support.

Mr. Madden was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie Putt Madden (2014), and is survived by his three children: Cynthia Madden Leitner, Scott Madden and J. Madden: grandchildren, Schuyler Madden, Blair Madden Bliss, Paul Leitner, Joseph Madden and Grace Madden: four great-grandchildren, Schuyler Madden, Lily Brown, Walter Madden, and Willow Bliss: sisters Jane Crosby and Susan Madden Lankford.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Museum of Outdoor Arts’ John W. Madden Jr. memorial fund for arts education.

Read more about his illustrious life story in the below article by Colleen Smith, the extensive Villager Newspaper article, “Man of the Century: John Madden” written by Scottie Taylor Iverson (published in 2023), and the Denver Post article by Judith Kohler.

MOA’s Co-founder, John W. Madden Jr., Lives on Through his Artful Legacy

By Colleen Smith

The city of Denver, the art world and, above all, the Madden family has lost a patriarch in the best sense of the word: John W. Madden Jr. – Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Museum of Outdoor Arts (MOA) and the builder of MOA’s Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre — died at his home in Greenwood Village, Colo., on January 19, 2024.

Madden provided an ideal example of the advice “follow your bliss.” His monumental success owed, in part, to his pursuit of personal interests in architecture, art, music and people.

In his gracious penthouse atop one of the many buildings constructed by the John Madden Company, Madden, 94, had been in hospice care for the past few months. A brother and a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather, Madden will be remembered for his boisterous role at the head of an extended family, many of whom work in his family businesses.

Madden also left behind his brainchildren: a series of commercial developments with enduring architectural beauty energized by site-specific public art installations and sophisticated landscaping. In Colorado, he raised the bar for architectural excellence and imaginative environments including Palazzo Verdi, Tuscany Plaza and Harlequin Plaza.

Madden’s visionary developments incorporated posh restaurants and private clubs, art galleries, premiere full-service fitness centers — all executed with impeccable design and his own hands-on touch and refined taste. Madden and his wife, the late Marjorie Madden, traveled to Italy to select marble for Tuscany Plaza. On the plaza, he installed a large bronze sculpture of Mercury positioned so the god’s index finger pointed at the sun on winter solstice. Harlequin Plaza featured a gigantic chess board. In the Palazzo Verdi lobby, his son-in-law, the late Roger Leitner, installed a waterjet-cut marble labyrinth modeled after the one in France’s Chartres Cathedral. From Madden, the unexpected was expected, and even business parks were playful.

He also will be remembered for his longstanding patronage of the visual arts and his widespread philanthropy. Madden managed to elevate the environments of his developments by investing 1 percent of his projects’ budget for the arts — a practice he discovered while on East Coast business trips and then pioneered in Colorado.

Madden’s sizable and impressively pertinent personal art collection inspired his opening of the Madden Museum in Palazzo Verdi. He eventually donated much of his art to the University of Denver.

Madden extended his philanthropic generosity primarily to arts and education institutions, but his considerable personable charm and sense of humor he shared with almost everybody he encountered. He fondly and frequently recited inspirational lines from the Romantic British poet and artist William Blake: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/And Eternity in an hour.”