Madeline McCord played professional basketball in the 1940s, alternated child-rearing duties with her husband while pursuing three degrees in the 1950s and 1960s, and was a union leader in the 1980s.
She grew up long before the women’s liberation movement but inculcated in her children from an early age that men were no better than women, they recalled.
“She was like a pioneer for women’s rights,” said son Richard J. McCord, a Glen Cove City Court judge.
Madeline McCord, of Glen Cove, died November 16, 2017 at age 88 from complications of surgery to place stents in her arteries, family members said.
The daughter of Italian immigrants, McCord was born in Bronx as Madeline A. DeBellis on April 21, 1929, and grew up in Bronx and Queens. She married William J. McCord in 1950.
McCord played on the professional women’s basketball team for what is now known as AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company in the late 1940s, when there were leagues of corporate teams, her son said. It was part of a lifelong love of sports and exercise.
She taught physical education and health in Glen Cove City Schools for more than four decades, until her retirement in 1993. At night, after teaching, she attended classes to earn two bachelor’s — one in education from LIU Brooklyn, the other in health from Queens College — and a master’s in special education from New York University.
It took nearly 20 years of long days teaching and then studying to earn the degrees, but she never gave up, said daughter Maureen Riebel, of Boerne, Texas, where McCord spent winters in her later years.
“When she got something in her mindshe just went forward with it,” she said. “She was a very determined individual.”