One of Lexington’s most colorful people for decades has passed away at the age of 85. Horsewoman, socialite, and philanthropist Anita Madden died Thursday. In addition to her family’s involvement in horse breeding, Madden was known for her Derby Eve parties in Lexington.
Former Vice Mayor Isabel Yates says attendees would eagerly await to see what the party theme would be and what Madden would wear. “She wore something that may have been beautiful. It may have been very extravagant and it could have been very outrageous, in fact.”
Yates remembers going to one Derby Eve Gala which included a “streaker”. The activity, which involved someone running naked through a public place, reached peak popularity in the early 1970’s. “But, you hardly saw it, you really couldn’t see it. It was very, can you say it was tastefully done, but it was something that was going on in the whole country and we all had lots of laughs about it,” explained Yates.
Yates says Madden was a big supporter of the Bluegrass Boy’s Ranch. The Lexington organization’s goal is to improve the academic skills and accomplishments of socio-economically disadvantaged gifted middle school students so they can pursue higher education. Yates called Madden, quote, “an icon and a treasure to our city.”
Update: Visitation 2 - 6p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3 at Milward-Man O' War, 1509 Trent Blvd. Burial services will be private. Memorials suggested to Bluegrass Boys' Ranch, P.O. Box 12128, Lexington, Kentucky 40580. www.milwardfuneral.com