DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady died from an apparent heart attack while walking his dog on Friday night. He was 66-years-old.

Cady was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court by former Governor Terry Branstad in 1998, his colleagues chose him to be chief justice in 2011. Cady’s current term was to expire in 2024.

Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, Chief Justice Cady earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Drake University.  After graduating from law school in 1978, he served as a judicial law clerk for the Second Judicial District for one year.  He was then appointed as an assistant Webster County attorney and practiced with a law firm in Fort Dodge.  Chief Justice Cady was appointed a district associate judge in 1983 and a district court judge in 1986.  In 1994, he was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals.  He was elected chief judge of the court of appeals in 1997 and served until his appointment to the supreme court.

Cady was a member of the Order of Coif, The Iowa State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Iowa Judges Association, and Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers (honorary).  He also served as chair of the Supreme Court’s Task Force on the Court’s and Communities’ Response to Domestic Abuse and is a member of the Drake Law School Board of Counselors.  Chief Justice Cady was chair of the Nation Center for State Courts Board of Directors and President of the Conference of Chief Justices. 

Cady was an adjunct faculty member at Buena Vista University for more than 30 years and served on its President’s Advisory Council.  In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate degree in Public Service from Buena Vista University.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Chief Justice Cady. He was an honorable public servant and he genuinely cared about Iowa. On behalf of Senate Republicans, I want to extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife and his entire family,” Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said in a released statement.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chief Justice Mark Cady. He devoted his entire professional career to serving the people of Iowa,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds in a released statement. “He loved the law, the judiciary, and the state we call home. He leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication that we should never forget. My prayers are with Becky, the rest of his family, and his colleagues on the Supreme Court and throughout the judicial branch during this difficult time.”

“I am stunned and saddened by the loss of Chief Justice Cady,” said Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg. “As he did for so many law students and young lawyers, he showed me kindness and support throughout my career. I am thankful for his service, and for the role he played in my life.  He will be missed.”

“I am very saddened to hear of the death of Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady,” said Ambassador Terry Branstad. “As governor, I was proud to have appointed him to the District Court, Court of Appeals and the Iowa Supreme Court. He was a dedicated Jurist who was liked and respected for his strong work ethic and fairness. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Becky, his family and friends.”

“Chief Justice Cady was a selfless public servant with a strong passion for the law and justice. He was a great Iowan who was respected by all. We will miss leadership on the Court. We are keeping his family, friends, and colleagues in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Speaker-Select Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said in a released statement.

Reynolds ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff on Saturday, November 16th to sunset on the day of Justice Cady’s memorial service. Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex. Flags will also be half-staff on all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state.

Cady is survived by his wife Rebecca, his two adult children, and four grandchildren.

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