Looking Back: Maureen McFadden's impact on Michiana

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – Thursday night, we continue our look back on the legendary career of Maureen McFadden, who is retiring Friday.

To quote another television icon, the late Danny Thomas, "Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others."

Mo has done plenty for others, keeping Michiana viewers informed – and entertained – over the last four decades.

"I don't know of anyone in my profession that has connected with and earned the trust of more Hoosiers than you have over the years, and for that reason and many, many more, I want to recognize you as not only one of Indiana's best and finest but the newest Sagamore of the Wabash. Congratulations," Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said at a surprise ceremony in February. "… Maureen is the latest example and overly deserving so of contributing to the life of our state and inspiring others, and this is what this is all about."

On Feb. 12, Maureen was awarded one of Indiana's highest civilian honors as the state recognized and acknowledged what generations of Michiana residents have known for years.

"She's not just an anchor at WNDU. She's entrenched herself in this entire community," WNDU President and General Manager John O'Brien said. "She's been involved in so many organizations, she's helped with fundraising. She's played a huge part in helping in the community, and I can't even imagine – I don't think we can count how many events that's she's hosted or been a part of along the way. And a lot of that, quite frankly, it's not required of her. She chooses to do that. She's really entrenched herself in the community over four decades."

"She learned from her parents how to give back," former Notre Dame men's basketball coach Digger Phelps said.

Digger has known Mo for almost fifty years, first as neighbors. And they both have a special connection to Logan Center, which actually began long before they ever met.

As a young girl, Mo was friends with Butch Waxman, a young man with Down syndrome who lived next door.

After Digger came to town, he started an annual Christmas basketball game against a team from Logan, led by Butch.

"And I made him the star of every game for 30 years," Digger said. "Butch was 30-0 against Digger. John Wooden was 6-2."

And for nearly as long, Mo has emceed the Logan Nose-On luncheon, in part, as a tribute to Butch.

"Mo was, to me, the image of what I think in the shadows of the lady the Golden Dome, knowing how to give back and make a difference in other people's lives, because she was blessed, and she wanted to take care of those who weren't as blessed but give them hope that they could win in the game of life, and she did," Digger said.

Becky Savage of the 525 Foundation is another longtime neighbor and friend of Maureen's. After her sons, Nick and Jack, died from accidental overdoses, Becky and her husband, Mike, were inundated with interview requests from the local and national media.

"But the first interview you gave was to Maureen. Why is that?" Terry asked Becky and Mike.

"I just knew that Maureen would represent our family and our boys the way that they deserve to be represented," Becky said. "To tell our story the way it was deserved to be told. And I knew that I just trusted her. I really trusted her, and I knew she would do a good job telling our story."

So, it came as little surprise that Maureen would emcee the first ever 525 fundraiser dinner, which featured Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

"I think people, when they talk about Maureen McFadden, they talk about someone who is genuine and somebody who is well-connected to the community, and well-liked and well-respected," Becky said. "And I think that really says a lot about who she is as a person and what she's done for our community."

"For the medical community, Maureen has meant everything, both in her professional life as well as her personal life," Beacon Health Board Vice Chairman Jesse Hseih said.

For years, Hseih has been interviewed for many of Maureen's Medical Moments.

"She's approachable, she's knowledgeable and she's reliable," Hseih said. "The wonderful thing about Maureen is that when she does a story, a medical story, we know it's been well-researched, diligently. We know it's accurate, and she explains things in a clear fashion. You just don't get that anywhere else."

Hseih even believes Mo has helped make Michiana a healthier place by making health care providers better.

"Maureen has not just helped the community of non-physicians, she's helped physicians, because a lot of times she'll do a story and we'll talk about it the next day," he said. "'Did you see that story that Mo just did? Did you hear about that latest advancement?' And then, we'll look into it, so she has driven the advancement, I think, in this community.

And when it comes to our community as a whole, the thought of not giving back has never crossed her mind.

"We're from here, why not get involved?" Mo said.

"And did you feel the need to become more invested in these organizations in this community because you were born and raised here?" Terry asked.

Yeah, I think so. I mean, we owe something to the community that raised us, and back when we were growing up, Terry, they talk about a village; it was a real village. Our neighbors helped raise us. When mom or dad would go shopping, they'd say go next door and stay with this one. But, no, our community has given a lot to us and, for that reason, I felt like it was time to give back."

Friday night at 6, during Mo's final newscast, she reveals what she hopes to do in her well-deserved retirement.

This is the fourth installment of a weeklong series dedicated to remembering the illustrious career of our own Maureen McFadden. Here is where you can find our tributes to Mo from earlier this week: