Madeline McCord, a teacher, athlete and leader in women’s sports and education, dies


Madeline McCord was a Glen Cove teacher, athlete and natural leader. She was always striving to make herself better for her family, according to her children. She died suddenly at 88 at St. Francis Hospital on Nov. 16, due to surgery complications following a heart attack.

McCord was born Madeline A. DeBellis on April 21, 1929 in the Bronx, where she lived until marrying William J. McCord in 1950.

After playing as a starter and captain of the basketball team at Our Lady of Grace High School in Queens, McCord was recruited to play professionally for AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company in the 1940s.

At that time, women were only allowed to play half-court games. McCord became part of the initiative to get women full-court game access by proving they could play as well as the men. Her children viewed her as a pioneer for women in sports and in life.

McCord was still in college after she got married, but put her education and career on hold after having her children, William, Richard and Maureen.

At the same time, she had accepted a teaching job in the Glen Cove City School District. McCord taught during the day, and went back to school part time at night to get several degrees. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from LIU Brooklyn, a bachelor’s in Health from Queens College and nearly a decade later, a master’s in Special Education from NYU.

McCord went on to teach physical education and health at every school in the Glen Cove City School District for over 40 years until retiring in 1993.

Former Glen Cove resident Nancy Peet had McCord as her physical education teacher and was under her supervision in the high school’s Leaders Club during all four years. In the club, girls were introduced to and learned how to play a variety of sports, like archery and volleyball.

“You actually looked forward to going to her classes,” said Peet. “She got you motivated.”

She said during that time it wasn’t common for girls to be as involved in sports as they are today. “Because of her it was accepted,” she explained. “She got girls motivated to participate in sports.”

Not only was McCord a fun coach and a natural athlete, she was always there to give advice, Peet said.

In the 1980s, McCord became president of the Glen Cove Teacher’s Association, where she advocated fiercely for equal pay for both men and women.

McCord was a Republican Committeewoman and the Glen Cove representative to the Nassau County Federation of Republican Women. She was also involved with St. Patrick’s Church.

She also served as Second Vice President of the Sons of Italy Loggia 1016, and was a member since 1982. She also chaired their golf outing. “She was very faithful to the Lodge and always attended meetings when she was available,” said Kathy Grande, a lodge member.

Richard, Glen Cove city court judge, said right up until her death, his mother was bowling weekly, golfing, swimming, and keeping active at the YMCA. “She was remarkable,” he said. “Her death came very suddenly, but right up until the end she was socializing and having a grand old time.”

McCord leaves behind three children, William (Anne), Richard (Maryann) and Maureen (Steven), seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held at Dodge-Thomas Funeral Home and the funeral mass was held at St. Patrick’s Church in Glen Cove, N.Y. Burial was at Holy Rood Cemetery.