Madelyn Marx (1924-2019) was one of the Founders during the late 1960s of the Town of Kennebunk Conservation Commission and served as its chairwoman. When a major oil refinery complex was proposed in the early 1970s for Sanford, she played a major organizational role in the Friends of Intelligent Land Use which opposed and defeated the project.
During the mid-1970s, IT&T proposed a massive Levittown housing development on Summer Street. Madelyn helped organize the local petition effort which sent IT&T out of Kennebunk empty handed. Out of that local struggle, Madelyn, Charles Cole, and Ed Winston, Conservation Commission members, with the help of a $750 Ford Foundation grant, founded Ramanascho Trust, the precursor of today’s Kennebunk Land Trust. Through the joint efforts of the Town and Ramanascho, Wonder Brook Park was established, preventing any future Levittown copycats for that large pristine tract between Wonder Brook and the Kennebunk River.
In 1998, the Kennebunk Land Trust recognized Madelyn’s pioneering dedication to land conservation by establishing the 14-acre Madelyn Marx Preserve along the Mousam River. In a Coast Star interview at that time, Madelyn credited her conservationist mother for shaping her love of Maine’s coast, open spaces, and forests. She said, “I picked it up from her.”
Madelyn was honored by the Maine House and Senate in 1999 for her service to her town and for her being a pioneer in land conservation and preservation in Maine. Her accomplishments in those fields are numerous and have had a lasting impact on her beloved Kennebunk and southern Maine.
She served as the secretary-treasurer of the Maine Association of Conservation Commissions, a director of Audubon, and secretary of the Executive Committee of Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission.
Madelyn was the first woman to serve on the Kennebunk Zoning Board of Appeals and during the 1970s served on 3 zoning review committees. She served as the secretary of the Kennebunk Beach Coastal Association which works to retain its residential character.
Madelyn was an avid Red Sox fan who loved to talk about yesterday’s game, that we didn’t need to “wait till next year,” what player was “hot” or “not,” and who should be traded away. If it was a west coast night game, she might even admit she had a mid-day nap so she could stay up for the late game.
She also loved politics—Republican politics. She was a regular at the local campaign party headquarters—stuffing envelopes, assembling campaign signs, and raising funds. She loved Bill Cohen and then Susan Collins.
Her many friends enjoyed her stories about growing up the 1930s and 40s in Kennebunk. She’d laugh that her father, who winter cut, stored, and delivered ice throughout town, never seemed to bring home enough ice for his own family.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about Madelyn, please enjoy a walk at Madelyn Marx Preserve, named after this wonderful environmental champion!