Madeline Jane Abath

Age 90, of Newark, DE, formerly of Wilmington, passed away suddenly at her home on Sunday, June 30, 2019. She was predeceased by her husband, Walter F. Abath in 2008 and by her daughter, Mary Abath Sosnowski in January 2019.

Born in the Bronx, NY, Madeline was one of five children of Irish immigrant parents Bartholomew and Susan McKenna.  She received her BA in English from Good Counsel College and her Masters degree in Library Science from Columbia University. Madeline worked her way through college employed at the New York Public Library, where she met her husband of 57 years. They relocated several times for Dupont, then settled in the Prices Corner area. Madeline went back to work when her children were older as the children’s librarian for Hockessin Library where she guided thousands of young people to and through their love of books. After retiring, she began attending the Osher Academy of Lifelong Learning, where she taught a course on classic films until spring 2019. She had an unfaltering faith, and was a parishioner of St. John the Beloved Church since 1958.

Madeline was generous and genuine, with more character and class than is generally found in one human being. She was an extraordinary storyteller…heck she’s probably got God in stitches even as we speak! She loved books, children, her family, old movies, turns of phrase, African Violets, bad puns (though she pretended to be aghast), and her beloved Phillies. Right up until the time of her passing, Madeline was a faithful Mass goer and choir member, classic film teacher, and penny poker hustler. She was an inspiration, and in times of challenge she would always say, “I can handle it- I grew up in the Bronx!!”

Madeline will be dearly missed by her daughter, Kathy Buterbaugh of Wilmington; her sons, Jim Abath (Cindy) of Huntsville, AL and Rick Abath (Diana) of Brattleboro, VT; her grandchildren, Ian, Brian, Corey, Kelly, Nathan, Evan, Christopher, Keegan, Brady, Riley, Miles and Jonah; great grandchildren, Mia, Jamie, Gabe, Walter, Theo, Char; and her sisters-in-law, Claire McKenna and Lucy McKenna.

Friends and family are invited to visitation on Friday, July 5th between 5 and 7 PM at St. John the Beloved Church, 907 Milltown Road, Wilmington where mass of Christian Burial will be also celebrated on Saturday morning July 6 at 10 AM.  Burial will follow at All Saints Cemetery, Wilmington. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Wilmington, 2601 W 4th St, Wilmington, DE 19805 or


Submitted by Charity Patton on
To the Family, extending my heartfelt condolences and offering prayers for you. With Sympathy, Charity Patton (former neighbor and fellow parishioner)

Submitted by Margery Schuyler on
I enjoyed working with Madeline at the Hockessin Library. She was kind, patient, and truly loved her job. The children loved her and the staff did too! She will be missed by all. I send condolences to her family.