Dick and Marge Maddux
“I don't much care about what we've done for the last 62 years. I think it's important that all of us focus on what we can do from here on for young people.”
"We were part of a very special [high school graduating] class," said Marge Maddux, sitting next to her husband Dick at a local café. "I know everyone thinks that about their class, but ours really was: we were seniors on December 7, 1941. We didn't know anything about war, but we learned in a hurry."
Seldon Maddux, Jr., moved to Chico from Sioux City in 1935. Not wanting to go through high school as "Junior," he registered at Chico High as Richard, inspired by a copy of Richard III lying in the office. Marge Coutolenc was born in Chico, with local roots that stretch back to the 1880s, when her grandfather founded the town of Coutolenc, above Magalia. As Dick recalls, he and Marge "grew up together": she lived on the Esplanade, above a meat market where the Red Tavern now stands; he lived a block away. They began dating as sophomores. Dick was an athlete who helped Chico High's basketball team win the championship of 1941; Marge was a cheerleader, who baffled her counselors by insisting that she wanted to study pharmacy. "Not a counselor in the world knew what to do with a girl who wanted to study pharmacy," she said. So she confided her ambitions to her PE teacher, Ethel "Teach" Bornfield, who promptly wrote to the University of California Pharmacy School on Marge's behalf for an application and the curriculum.
In the fall of 1943, Marge and Dick entered Chico State College together. A year later, Dick joined the Navy, where he served for three years; Marge moved to San Francisco to attend UCSF's College of Pharmacy, from which she graduated in October, 1945. They married the following year, and Marge began working for the Owl Rexall Drug Company in Berkeley, while Dick received an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of California.
In 1951, they returned to Chico, where Dick earned his teaching credential and began teaching at Chico High in 1953. In 1965, he received a masters degree in Chemistry from Oregon State University.
Of the move back to Chico, he says…
"We were fortunate to come home to a community that we truly enjoyed."
Reflecting back on the highlights of his 35-year career, he talked about how lucky he was to work with supportive administration and colleagues. He also said he was "blessed with good students": some who were academically strong, and others who had the tenacity to stick with what he admits can be a difficult subject. "You can't PR your way through chemistry," he says. Marge adds, "But it teaches you a lot beyond the chemistry itself: the discipline, for example, to tackle the next hurdle."
Marge, meanwhile, went to work for Lee Pharmacy in downtown Chico: "a tradition, a family-oriented store that took care of people." After fourteen years, owners George Stebbins and Marsh Pine opened Terrace Pharmacy, and offered Marge a partnership in the business. "At the time," she says, "women were secondary: it was a man's world. They took a chance, which is a measure of the kind of people they were. They gave me the chance to continue doing what I loved." Marge continued taking a personal interest in her patients as a pharmacist at Terrace for the next 42 years, finally retiring at 82. Marge was recognized in 2008 at the Chico Public Education Hall of Fame.
Anyone who knows Dick Maddux and Marge Coutolenc Maddux knows that they each are worthy of separate recognition for their individual accomplishments. Yet as they talk, their individual stories weave together into a single remarkable and rich narrative, one that reminds us of what we value: compassion, service to others, and community.