Surrounded by her beloved family, Madeleine Kirby Davenport Lorenzi passed away peacefully on Aug. 22, 2021, when heaven gained its most beautiful angel. She was 84.
“Madeleine was a very kind, generous and giving person who was always there to help friends and loved ones,” said E.J. Lorenzi, her husband of 18 years. “Anyone who was a friend of Madeleine was a friend of Madeleine for life. She was truly a very beautiful lady, and a wonderful woman.”
“Maddie” was born as Madeleine Marie Louise on Sept. 29, 1936, in Lyon, France, to her parents, Paulette and Jean Mefret. As a child, Maddie lived through World War II, and its many hardships and struggles, including Germany’s occupation of France. Her father was a local police inspector who ended up supporting the French Resistance and worked “underground” to help Jewish families escape the Nazis.
She and her parents survived the war years, and rebuilt their lives. However, as a young lady in 1955, Maddie enthusiastically moved to the United States of America, a country she loved and admired — not only for its role in liberating France and ending the war, but also for its ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. She eventually became a U.S. citizen and a proud American who loved to sing the song “God Bless America.” Later in life, Maddie would honor the U.S. flag by doing her part to make sure those on display were kept in excellent shape.
Fortunately, she found a place to work, grow and call a home in the town of Merced, California. She was employed for a time with the Base Exchange (BX) at Castle Air Force Base, and then later at Monroe’s dress shop at Canal and 18th Street, in downtown Merced.
Most people are lucky to find one great love in their lifetime, but here in Merced, Maddie found three!
Madeleine was never able to have children, but when she met and married local businessman Tom Kirby, she was thrilled to become a part of the lives of Meg, Kelly and Ric — Tom’s young grandchildren — as part of the package. When both Tom’s children passed away at young ages, Madeleine jumped right in to help raise her three grandchildren and remained close with them until her death.
Madeleine and Tom loved traveling and spending time at their cabin with their grandchildren. During this time, Maddie’s passion for horses and horseback riding grew. She spent several summers going on trail rides in Yosemite with granddaughter Meg.
Sadly, Tom Kirby would eventually face a tough battle with cancer. Maddie was always there to nurse him through the difficult days, but she ultimately lost him.
By this time, Madeleine had become a smart business woman. She was named the Vice President at Kirby Manufacturing, and that’s where she and her brother-in-law, Bill Kirby, would help mentor her grandson, Ric, who currently runs the company as a very successful international firm.
After some time, Maddie started dating and ultimately married Dub Davenport, a former Foster Farms executive turned local Realtor and real estate investor. Dub was a wonderful man, full of a joy for life. Together they created a wonderful partnership, friendship and love story. The two traveled together and enjoyed trips to Hawaii with friends. Dub and Maddie also invested in real estate together, including land in the family such as the Lucky Lady Ranch — a name inspired by Maddie — along Bellevue Road, north of Merced, near what is now UC Merced. Their investments would also attract the likes of Leo Kolligian, a noted Fresno developer and UC Merced supporter.
But then came another terrible blow. Dub was diagnosed with cancer. Maddie, of course, was always there to care for him; however, she ultimately lost a second love.
After two wonderful marriages, God graced Maddie with a third husband, Merced businessman E.J. Lorenzi — proving French and Italian make a great pairing. They both welcomed and loved each other’s families. They were both at a point in their lives where they could really go see the world. E.J. and Maddie traveled together to Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, among many other places. In California, they enjoyed trips to Sugar Pine, Sand Dollar Beach, and their home in Palm Desert. They also invested in real estate together, neither ever really retiring.
Sadly in 2011, Madeleine was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. E.J. was by her side for the next decade, singing to her and making her smile.
Madeleine supported many local groups and causes, but her favorites were the Hospital Assistance League where she served as president, the Merced County Historical Society, the Red Cross, and the SPCA. Anyone who knew Maddie well, knew she loved dogs. She had a soft spot for all animals, but especially dogs and horses.
She volunteered at Mercy Hospital for many years, and performed with the annual Merced Follies. She was also a member of Merced’s St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Parish.
The family would like to especially thank Amie Marchini’s Home Care, and Maddie’s sweet caregivers JoAnn, Annabel and Elena.
Madeleine is survived by her husband, E.J. ‘Almo’ Lorenzi, his children, grandchildren and great grand children. Her grandchildren, Kelly Kirby, great grandsons James and Mark; Ric Kirby (Dana), great granddaughters Meredith and Morgan; and great grandson Jeffrey Kammerer.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, a Rosary will be held at 9:30 a.m., followed by a Mass at 10 a.m., at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, located at 21st and Canal streets in downtown Merced. A reception will follow at the Italo American Lodge, 1351 W. 18th Street in Merced. Funeral arrangements are by Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Hinds Hospice of Merced, the Merced County Historical Society, and the Mercy Foundation Heritage Endowment.