Tributes to Madeleine Melling
Thank you to all of those who let us know about the passing of Madeleine Melling, a much loved staff member, in December 2022
During 1991, while David Ems was Director, Madeleine joined the College as assistant to Sandra Lello, Warden of William Goodenough House. After Mrs Lello left, Madeleine moved across to London House, began liaising with Alumni and worked as the Fellowship Officer from 1991-2004.
“The College played a huge and important part in her life. She made so many special friends there from all around the world.”
Two of our Alumni, Teresa Carla Trigo Oliveira and B J Rahn share their memories of Madeleine.
“Madeleine was a remarkable person, not just in terms how she fulfilled her responsibilities at the College but also in how she related to its residents in an exceptionally caring and non-judgmental manner in both formal or informal contexts and often also in her home. She had a talent in making people feel at ease and encouraging us to share our cultures whether in terms of food and drink, dress, dance or singing. Early in adulthood she came to Portugal to be trained as a wine connoisseur and her contributions to college ‘Port Talks’ were very special moments. Her typical smile reflected her joy in life and was contagious, despite the loss through death of her first husband and father of her children.
“Madeleine was also a woman with a deep religious Catholic faith, but she was not at all sectarian and invited residents of different confessions to her home for Sunday lunches, which were occasions for us to share laughter and commonalities and differences.
“Simply to remember her is a treasure.”
Teresa Carla Trigo Oliveira (WGH 1991-1994)
“Madeleine and I shared wonderful times over the years, especially at Goodenough College. Madeleine regarded the time she spent at the College as some of the happiest years of her life. It was not all ‘skittles and beer’ for her, though. She weathered many ups and downs following changes of directors as well as policies and values.
“Madeleine was the best good will ambassador the College ever had – especially when her office was located just outside the front door of London House and her warm smile welcomed students and visitors through the window before they even entered the building. Her initial greeting signaled her ‘open door policy’. She was always ready to listen and encourage needy students from all over the world – to counsel and support them away from home. And not just current residents – returning alumni and staff also benefited from her understanding, compassion and good advice. But she wasn’t just an ‘agony aunt’. She had a wonderful sense of humour and even appreciated a ‘jolly jape’ or two. She was always good company. She continued to attend alumni events even in 2021.
“Madeleine’s loyalty to the College was also reflected in her choosing to hold important events in her personal life there, such as her first husband’s memorial and the reception for the wedding to her second husband David Barker. Bringing her son Kevin to weekly service in the chapel, followed by Sunday lunch in the Great Hall, was another link between her family and the College community. She shared many strong friendships with staff and Alumni: for example, Colonel Eric Wilson, former warden of London House; former governor Nicholas Fitzherbert; as well as Martin Andrews, former resident and College benefactor; and Val Martin, College historian, to whom she gave unwavering support during their final illnesses.
“Madeleine was one of the most unselfish people I have ever met. Instead of bewailing her untimely fate, she spent many of her last days sending loving messages to friends and acquaintances telling them how much she treasured their relationships. She was gallant and gracious to the end. She will be much missed.”
B J Rahn (1963-65)