The “Famous Woman” I honor may not be known to the entire world; however to us she was the world. Dr. Lena Frances Edwards Madison, recipient of the United States Medal of Freedom. Dr. Edwards was to get the Medal from President John F. Kennedy in December, 1963. The Dallas Tragedy put us in mourning. Being a Bostonian the pain was palpable. In December, 1964 President Lyndon Baines Johnson presented Dr. Lena the Medal in ceremony. Dr. Edwards, married a classmate, a physician too. She was a mom of six. All six became citizens to brag on. Dr. Lena devoted her practice to those most in need of medical care. She never saw a poor patient. She only say patients; children of God. She even established a hospital in rural Texas. Ironic, in 1864, her grandfather, Gabe Coakley asked his friend, President Abraham Lincoln to have a fund-raiser to build a Catholic Church for mixed race people. Gabe’s Mom was Irish and at a set age, children of Color could not sit in the “White” section of their parish church. They were ostracized to the balcony. Friend, Abe agreed and signed the permit for the fund raiser that was held on the Fourth of July, 1864 on the White House lawn. The funds established St. Matthews Catholic Church in Washington, DC. Dr. Lena was a devout Roman Catholic and a Third Order Franciscan. Just over 100 years passed and Gabe’s granddaughter is royally welcomed to the White House. I last spent 31 October 1986 with her at her home in Lakewood, NJ. We had the best visit that day. Our conversations were the usual. We missed little from the weather, to politics, protecting the earth from pollution; and of course, health. Even the meal Dr. Lena cooked came with a verbal recipe and the nutritious values. Delicious! After the meal we retired to her sunroom. It had comfortable rocking chairs and we rocked and talked. I mentioned an aggravating pain in my right side that would come and go. She asked me to stand and show her were it was. She touched my side.She told me to see my primary doctor when I returned home. I did obey about two weeks later when I could get an appointment. [It was my gallbladder that was bad and loaded with pellets.]We left the sunroom for the living room. She asked me to sit. She reached into a cabinet and placed in my hands a large jeweler’s box. I was told to open it. I did.She removed the Medal of Freedom and placed it in my hands. The tears rolled. The Medal went back into the case and put away. As the day waned I had to leave her. The hugs and kisses were always, “See you later”. Dr. Lena died weeks later on 3 December 1986. Dr. Lena Frances Edwards Madison was my Godmother. I am so Blessed!
Causes Patricia Barbee Supports
Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.
Any effort to aid the elderly, children and enslaved women.