James Robert Cade (known as Bobby), scientist, physician, and inventor, was born on September 26, 1927, in San Antonio, Texas. He was the first child of J. Robert Cade and Winifred (Schuetze) Cade. Cade attended Highland Park Elementary School and then Brackenridge High School, which he left in May 1945 with an incomplete in English, making him ineligible to graduate. Years later, in 1959, his high school record was finally changed to a passing grade of B. After high school, Cade joined the U. S. Navy and served as a pharmacist’s mate or ‘hospital corpsman’ from 1945 until 1948. By the end of his service, Cade had reached the third class rank. He took advantage of the G.I. Bill to partially fund his history degree at the University of Texas, where he overloaded his schedule in order to complete the course of study a year early in 1950. During his degree, Cade also worked in the college library, at a service station, and at a special duty nursing ward where he met his future wife Mary Martha Strasburger, whom he married on June 1, 1953.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Cade moved to Dallas to study medicine at the Southwestern Medical School. After his graduation in 1954, he held an internship in St. Louis City Hospital and then a residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas until 1957. His accomplishments led him to a post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell University Hospital in New York City from 1958 to 1961. At Cornell, Cade’s interest in nephrology first developed. His aptitude for medicine was a surprise to some, as Cade had been a self-professed lazy student and his college roommate had once quipped that Cade was “too dumb for medical school.”
In 1961 Cade left New York and moved to Gainesville, Florida, to join the faculty at the University of Florida, where he accepted the position of assistant professor of internal medicine. He also became the Chief of the Renal Division, a post he held until 1978. He became a full professor of medicine and physiology in 1971 and eventually became professor emeritus until his death.
Described as a Renaissance man, Cade had many notable achievements both in his career and in his personal life. He was an accomplished physician, scientist, inventor, and artist. Cade was a talented musician who had played violin in the San Antonio Symphony during his last year in high school. He later played both violin and viola in the University of Florida orchestra and had an impressive collection of violins. He was also an avid collector of Studebakers. He wrote poetry as well as an autobiography titled Freut Euch Des Lebens (Take Joy in Life) that remained unpublished; the book title was a nod to his study of German during his undergraduate degree.
Arguably most significant, however, were Cade’s advancements in the scientific areas of the sporting world. He designed and developed a multitude of inventions that changed the face of football, including the first shock dissipating football helmet. His most important creation was what came to be called Gatorade, a drink that rehydrates and replenishes electrolytes after prolonged physical exertion. In 1965 Cade headed a team that began development of this replenishing fluid for the football team at the University of Florida. The drink was first used at the varsity level in a football game of the Florida Gators versus the Louisiana State University Tigers in October 1965. While the Tigers began the game with a strong showing, the Gators, rehydrated by their “Gatorade,” surged ahead later in the game and prevailed. Initially the university declined to market the drink formula, so Cade consequently sold the formula. As Gatorade’s popularity grew and royalties came to Cade, the University of Florida eventually took notice and demanded payment. After a lengthy legal battle, Cade and the university came to a settlement and both shared in the royalty payments from Gatorade, which was later acquired by PepsiCo and was recognized as the top sports beverage in the world. Cade authored more than 120 publications discussing its effects on physiology and fluid and electrolyte management in sports. His invention was even credited in the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl title win.
Cade left a lasting impression on the sporting, scientific, and medical worlds, but was also active in his community. He helped establish the Gainesville Community Foundation. A generous and religious man, Cade was a Lutheran and often donated to Lutheran colleges and organizations. In 1991 he received the Wittenberg Award from the Luther Institute in Washington, D.C. He and his wife established the Gloria Dei Foundation to provide support to small charities in 2004. That same year, they established the Cade Museum Foundation for the construction of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Gainesville. Cade died in Gainesville, Florida, on November 27, 2007, of kidney failure, a disease he often came across in his research and profession. He was survived by his wife and their six children. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Gainesville. The Cade Museum was scheduled to open in 2017.