ANNAPOLIS – Shock and sadness gripped the state capital Thursday, as friends and colleagues recalled state Sen. John Cade, R-Anne Arundel, who died of a heart attack Thursday morning in Berlin, Md.
Most often, those who worked with and for the 67-year-old Senate minority leader said the senator’s well-known gruff exterior hid a warm and sensitive man whose professionalism and intelligence drew praise from Democrats and Republicans alike.
“What the public saw was 20 percent grizzly bear, while the other 80 percent was teddy bear,” said Sen. Martin Madden, R- Howard.
Madden said Cade was a role model for all members of the General Assembly, regardless of party, a sentiment echoed by Sen. John Astle, D-Anne Arundel.
Astle said it did not surprise him that Cade helped him learn the job when he came to the Legislature 14 years ago.
“He took the `R’ and left it at the door when he came to work. What he cared about was the character of the people he worked with,” Astle said.
Astle, a former Marine helicopter pilot and winner of two Purple Hearts, added that Cade, a Marine veteran of the Korean War, had a “Marine” way of doing things, which meant talking straight and standing up for principle.
Cade, who had been the minority leader since 1983, had a significant impact on his colleagues over his 20-year career. So much so, in fact, that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., D-Prince George’s, appointed him as chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee’s subcommittee for health, education and human resources.
“He was a Republican who remembered Dwight Eisenhower and [former U.S. Sen.] Charles Mathias and who believed government had a role in taking care of those who couldn’t take care of themselves,” Miller said of why he appointed Cade.
He added that it was always important to include Cade in crafting legislation because it meant better legislation.
Cade was on state business when he was stricken, representing the Maryland Senate at a meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Commission in Ocean City. About 6 a.m., he requested that his hotel call for an ambulance, according to Ocean City police. Paramedics and police had to break into his room, where attempts were made to resucitate him. He was taken to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, where he died.
Those staffers and state employees who worked closest with him said he will be greatly missed.
A tearful Merri Mullaney, Cade’s secretary and political adviser for the past two and one-half years, was thoroughly surprised by Cade’s passing and had difficulty finding words to describe her loss.
Mullaney described Cade as a considerate, caring man whose quick wit and concern for his staff’s personal well-being endeared him to all.
“He came to birthday parties and he never forgot anything. He was the most considerate person to his staff,” Mullaney said.
She said Cade was especially proud of the growth of the Republican Party during his time in the Senate.
“He used to say `you could have a meeting of the Republican Party in a phone booth’ when he first started, and he was so pleased when 15 Republicans were elected in 1994,” Mullaney said.
Others who work in the James Senate Office Building said Cade’s presence was even larger than his bear-like stature.
Ilene Heaney, legislative aide to Senate Minority Whip F. Vernon Boozer, R-Baltimore, expressed her reaction as shock. Like many of those interviewed, she said Cade’s death is not only a loss to the Republican Party but to the state as well.
“You can’t find many Jack Cades in politics or anywhere. He had courage and would take on a battle and he didn’t care what the odds were,” Heaney said.
Debbie Romanoski, administrative assistant to Sen. Larry Haines, R-Carroll, said Cade will be sorely missed.
What she recalled most was how Cade made time for younger constituents, especially children. She said when her 15-year-old- son was younger, the first person he would approach with a problem was Cade, who would always be ready to help.
Others said Cade’s sense of humor, which showed even in the most difficult legislative struggle, will be missed as well.
Douglas Mann, the Department of Fiscal Service’s principal analyst for the Senate Budget and Taxation committee, remembered how Cade’s windup toys would start making their way across the table during committee meetings.
Said Mann: “He was very good to be round. He had a soft and big heart and that wasn’t always visible.”
The funeral will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at Holy Trinity Church in Glen Burnie.