Family, friends gather to remember 18-year-old who touched 'lives with happiness'
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:12 a.m.
Updated Dec. 13, 2011 at 6:13 a.m.
The long gravel road to Travis Madden's driveway will be quieter in the weeks to come without his oversized tires kicking up dust.
The echoing boom of Madden driving up to his house was much like his personality and confidence on the baseball mound - big.
"We could hear those tires down the street before he ever got to the house," Madden's cousin, Kyle Klimitchek, said.
Tough-faced and fighting back tears, Klimitchek lovingly remembered the cousin he grew up with: his dear friend who died early Sunday morning after leaving a tacky Christmas sweater party in Kingsville. Madden was found dead in an apartment stairwell about 10:01 a.m. Sunday, two blocks from the party, Kingsville Police Department Detective Julian Cavazos said.
Madden, 18, was a first-year student at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, where he was recruited on a baseball scholarship to pitch for the Javelinas. A chemical engineering major, Madden was finishing his first semester at the university.
At Madden's parents' Inez home Monday, friends and family gathered to remember the man they said never met a stranger. The faithful man of God who deeply cared about those around him, and stood up for what was right, no matter the consequences. A man with a heart even bigger than his 6-foot-2-inch frame.
"Travis could be in a room by himself and come out with a half dozen friends. That's just who he was," Madden's father, Keith Madden, said.
In addition to a passion for baseball, a love he's had since he held a rag ball in his hand at age 3, Madden was an avid sportsman. Whether fishing, hunting, skeet shooting, playing baseball or making his friends, family and girlfriend, Kelsey Thomas, smile, Madden was first-rate.
"He was pretty natural at anything he picked up. He was a naturally gifted person," Keith Madden said, eyes welling with tears. "I want him to be remembered as somebody who loved everything he was doing."
Madden's death has been a shocking blow to those who knew and loved him. An outpouring of love and support has appeared on Madden's Facebook wall, and showed up in person at his parents' house.
"It's been wonderfully overwhelming," Madden's mother, Carol Madden, said. "Everything I've read on Facebook that people have posted just shows that Travis touched their lives with happiness."
Industrial High School baseball coach Stephen Gillis, who coached Madden for two years, visited Madden's parents' house Monday to retire his high school baseball jersey, No. 8.
"I know how important baseball was to him. It was his life. It was what he wanted to do, so I decided to go ahead and pull it," Gillis said.
Cavazos said an investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of Madden's death. His passing has been classified as a suspicious circumstance, but there is no indication of foul play, he said.
Funeral services are scheduled with Rosewood Funeral Home in Victoria at Holy Family Church at 10 a.m. A burial will follow at Crescent Valley Cemetery.
The family is asking donations be made to the Travis Madden Memorial Scholarship Fund care of First Victoria Bank in lieu of flowers.
"It will never be the same again," Carol Madden said.
"He will be missed, but he will never be forgotten," Keith Madden added.