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Celebrating the Life of a Classmate and Lifelong Friend

Brenda Madison

Brenda Madison's freshman picture at ODU.

For most students, the thought of going away to college is both exciting and uncertain. From making new friends to finding their way in a strange place, it is always an adventure. For Lorraine Schneider, it was no different. She was from New York and always wanted to experience her college life far away from home. During her senior year of high school, Lorraine was at a picnic when she learned about Old Dominion University through the relative of a friend. It sounded like the perfect place for her.

After convincing her parents over the summer, Lorraine quickly enrolled, picked her classes and moved into Rogers Hall dormitory in the fall of 1977, ready to start her freshman year. When Lorraine was selecting her classes, she picked an astronomy class as an elective without much thought. Little did she know that those stars would align, and she would find a lifelong friend in that class.

Brenda Lynn Madison graduated from Maury High School in 1977, after living in other parts of the country. She followed her older sister Theresa to Old Dominion and planned to study astronomy. It was in that very first astronomy class where the two met, and instantly became great friends. They spent much of their campus life together. Ultimately, Brenda chose to pursue her real passion—a degree in English. She had always relished reading good books and loved spending time in the writings of literary greats. Meanwhile, Lorraine gravitated toward a degree in social services, as she always cared for people and wanted to help others.

Brenda Madison

Lorraine is using her estate plan to create a scholarship in memory of classmate Brenda Lynn Madison.

After graduating from ODU, Lorraine moved back to New York and began working as a case worker for the City of New York. Meanwhile, Brenda stayed in Hampton Roads, living and working in Virginia Beach. But the two continued to stay in touch and remained close friends. While it’s natural for many to lose the connection with college friends, Brenda and Lorraine’s friendship proved to be stronger than both time and distance.

Brenda left this world in December 2018. She was an individual who loved the beauty of the world around her and always appreciated the uniqueness of others. Although Brenda experienced a lot of adversity throughout her life, she remained a very gentle and kindhearted person. For those who knew and loved her, they were happy to join Brenda on her journey in this life and wished it could have been longer.

But Lorraine had an idea. Maybe there was a way to continue to celebrate Brenda’s life and make her memory last forever. She contacted the ODU Office of Gift Planning and learned that she could easily create a scholarship in Brenda’s name through her estate plan. Shortly after, Lorraine established The Brenda Madison ’83 Scholarship in English to celebrate Brenda’s life and her love of literature, while also providing the financial support for a deserving student to pursue a degree in English at ODU just like Brenda. Lorraine said that Brenda would have been happy to know that in honor of her life there will forever be students at Old Dominion University who will be given the resources to pursue their academic passions.

You can make a lasting impact at ODU and on our students by establishing a scholarship through your estate plan, just like Lorraine did to honor her friend Brenda. Contact Barbara M. Henley, CFRE at 757-683-6563 or bhenley@odu.edu or Brett A. Smiley, CFRE at 757-683-4735 or bsmiley@odu.edu to learn more about how to create a scholarship or see what other giving options are available.

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