This past spring, Bob Madsen celebrated his 100th birthday in a big way. The longtime Upbring donor’s five-day birthday bash included his 34 children and grandchildren, along with friends. Bob even received a gift from Gov. Greg Abbott, a nice letter and a Texas flag flown over the Capitol building in Austin.  

A paratrooper who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, Bob was a finance leader for Shell Oil Company. He first donated to Lutheran Social Services in places he worked like New York State and California. By 1992 Bob had moved to Houston, and he began donating to Lutheran Social Services of the South, renamed Upbring in 2015. 

Bob met his wife, Mary Ellen, in a hospital during a routine medical exam. Bob got her phone number and, after dating for six months, the two married in 1952. Bob and Mary Ellen participated in Upbring Golf tournaments. 

Currently, Bob and Mary Ellen live at Lake Travis Independent Living northwest of Austin, where they have family. Bob initiated church services at the community because there weren’t any Lutheran churches nearby. He continues to share Upbring’s mission and encourage friends and members of his home church — Kinsmen Lutheran Church in north Houston — to become Upbring donors, attend galas and play in golf tournaments. Two of his friends currently serve on our Houston Healing Hearts Gala committee. 

“I believe we are here to serve like Jesus serves us,” said Bob. “It can be in your church or in your community. At 100 years old, my service doesn’t look like it used to, but I do what I can.”  

At Upbring, we are thankful for our donors, like Bob and Mary Ellen, for their steadfast commitment over the years. Thank you for helping us continue to grow and provide lifechanging support to the children and families across Texas. For more information on how to join our mission, visit 

Keep up with what's happening in your community.