LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington socialite Anita Madden, 85, has passed away Sept. 27, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.
She died peacefully surrounded by family and friends at the Willows Health Center in Hamburg, according to a close family friend.
Madden had been in declining health in recent years and recently had a brief stay at Baptist Health Lexington.
Madden was well-known for hosting her extravagant Kentucky Derby Eve parties parties which were widely attended by celebrities.
Madden was also known for her grand entrances to each gala. She would wear jaw-dropping dresses for the parties, many of which were part of large exhibit last year.
Madden and her family owned the 2,000 acre Hamburg Place Horse Farm, which was originally founded in 1898. The farm is famous for its legacy of strong racehorses, including the first Triple Crown winner Sir Barton.
About half of Hamburg Place has slowly been developed into what Lexington now knows today as Hamburg Pavilion, a shopping complex in suburban Lexington.
Anita Madden is survived by husband Preston Madden and son Patrick Madden
Tributes are pouring in for Anita Madden.
Longtime Lexington media personality Sue Wylie covered Madden's elaborate Derby Eve parties for years. She says they put Lexington on the map.
"[Anita Madden] brought the international spotlight to Lexington as the Derby Eve center of the world. The Japanese press, the London Times, the LA Times they all came to look at Anita and her party and her glamour," Wylie said. "But the thing was, the public who didn't know her thought she was glamorous, hard and beautiful, but she also was the dearest, kindest person that ever lived. It's a terrible loss."
Below are other tributes on Twitter to Madden's legacy.
In addition to her contributions to the Thoroughbred industry, Anita Madden brought spirit to Derby season for many years. We share our condolences with her husband Preston, son Patrick, her family & friends. https://t.co/9QacJ0Yl1X— Alison L. Grimes (@KySecofState) September 28, 2018
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One of the more influential women in my life, Anita Madden has passed away. Strong, unapologetic and most importantly Anita always honored the underdog, the person trying in spite of everything else. I will miss you, Anita.— caton bredar (@CBredar) September 28, 2018