Hearts Love 33
Official Obituary of

Maria (Madsen) Holzberg

July 29, 1955 ~ March 28, 2024 (age 68) 68 Years Old

Maria Holzberg Obituary

Maria Madsen Holzberg, 68, former mayor of Middletown and beloved wife for 38 years of Judge (Ret.) Robert L. Holzberg, passed away peacefully at her home on March 28, 2024, with her husband by her side following a valiant year-long battle with cancer.

Maria was born on July 29, 1955, in Norwalk, CT, the daughter of Axel and Isabel Madsen. She was predeceased by her parents and by her brother Craig Madsen. In addition to her husband, Maria is survived by her brother Eric, her beloved nieces and nephew (who she regarded as her own children) and their spouses - Ian and MacKenzie Madsen, Alexandra and Aaron Perlman, Victoria and Clark Sargent Kinlin II, Jenna and Joshua Holzberg Puncher, and countless dear friends and admirers.

She graduated from Wilton High School in 1973 and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Mount Holyoke College in 1977. Following graduation, Maria moved to Washington, D.C. where she served as a legislative aide in Governor Ella Grasso’s Washington office.  Following her return to Connecticut as Administrative Assistant to the Commissioner of Human Services Maria enrolled in the University of Connecticut School of Law.  She received her Juris Doctor in 1983, earning the prestigious Hon. M. Joseph Blumenfeld Award for outstanding client advocacy. Subsequently, Maria served in the administration of Governor William O’Neill as Legal Counsel and Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Children and Youth Services.

In 1995, after knocking on the door of nearly every registered voter in Middletown to personally introduce herself and share her progressive agenda, Maria won an upset victory in the Democratic Primary. She went on to decisively win the general election, making history as the city’s first woman Mayor. The well-worn sneakers that Maria used while campaigning are on permanent display at the Middlesex County Historical Society.

As Mayor, Maria’s natural leadership abilities made an indelible mark on the landscape of her adopted hometown. She secured voter approval for the much-needed renovations of the Colonel Wadsworth Mansion and Wilbert Snow Elementary School. Maria also revived the long-stalled search for a new police station that won overwhelming approval from Middletown voters. Her keen sense of architecture and appreciation for history inspired the final design of the new police station, evoking fond memories of the original Middletown City Hall.  Today, this landmark building stands as the anchor to a downtown renaissance and a testament to her vision and perseverance. As part of her efforts to revitalize downtown, Maria retained a nationally recognized urban planner who recommended that the City encourage restaurants to locate on Main Street.  Middletown is now one of Connecticut’s premier restaurant destinations.

Following her service as Mayor Maria was appointed the first Juvenile Public Defender in the history of the Middlesex Judicial District and served in that capacity for 12 years until her retirement in 2014. In this important role, Maria was a dedicated and determined advocate for her young clients, many of whom faced socioeconomic challenges. Her active advocacy for diversion and treatment programs gave hope to many for a better life.

Inspired by her love of flowers and gardening, Maria pursued and, in 2007, obtained the prestigious Certificate of Floral Design from the New York Botanical Gardens. Maria received countless awards and recognitions, including from the Garden Club of America, for her magnificent floral designs and tablescapes. Working with city government officials and the Middletown Garden Club, Maria led an initiative to install beautiful pocket parks across the city. In 2023, in recognition of her tireless efforts to beautify Middletown, the city named the Harbor Park Garden that Maria and the Middlesex Garden Club installed as the Maria Madsen Holzberg Pollinator Pathway.

Throughout her life, Maria was well-known as an energetic and passionate community volunteer and was as generous with her time and talents as she was with her financial support of countless worthwhile causes and charities. She was an active long-time member and President of the Middletown Garden Club, board member of the Middlesex County Historical Society, and member of Middletown’s 20th Century Park Committee. Among her avocations, Maria also enjoyed acting and singing in a local theater group, the Middletown Vintage Players, and there, as in life, “she left us wanting more.”

Maria’s family extends its deep appreciation to Dr. Michael Good, Dr. Kristen Zarfos, Dr. Melissa Henretta and the St. Francis Hospital Oncology team for their loving and supportive care of Maria. 

Doolittle Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements. There will be no calling hours. A memorial service and celebration of Maria’s life will be held on July 25, 2024, at 5:30pm at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. Maria wished that, in lieu of donations or arrangements, you send flowers to the ones you love. To share memories or send condolences to the family, please visit www.doolittlefuneralservice.com.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Maria (Madsen) Holzberg, please visit our floral store.

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Celebration of Life
July 25, 2024

5:30 PM
Wadsworth Mansion
421 Wadsworth Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Guaranteed delivery before the Celebration of Life begins


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