Missouri Southern State University has lost a longtime faculty member, senior administrator and good friend with the death of Dr. Alfred R. Cade, dean of the School of Education.

Cade, 54, passed away Saturday, Feb. 21, after a long battle with cancer. cade-new-xyz

Known as man of integrity whose life was dedicated to serving others, he was a role model to both students and colleagues across campus.

“Dr. Cade was a man of honor and had a unique gift for making those around him feel very cared for,” said MSSU President Alan Marble. “The efforts he made to encourage the best in our students and to keep a connection with our alumni are inspirational to our Lion family. We are only comforted knowing that after his courageous fight, he is finally at peace. We will miss him greatly.”

Dr. Pat Lipira, vice president for academic affairs, had been friends with Dr. Cade since the two attended college together.

“Al was not only a colleague for 25 years, but a dear friend,” she said. “Although my heart is breaking, I am a better person because our paths in life crossed.”

Born July 15, 1960, in Kansas City, Mo., he would go on to pursue two of his life’s passions following high school — education and football.

Cade received a bachelor of science degree in education (health and physical education) in 1983 and a master of science in education (health and physical education) in 1985, both from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. He completed his doctorate of education in 2001 from St. Louis University.

In 1982, he saw action in seven games with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger Cats after he signed a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He joined the Missouri Southern faculty in 1984 as a physical education instructor for the Department of Kinesiology and as an assistant football coach, working with the Lions’ defensive line.

In 1993, Cade returned to his alma mater as a physical education instructor in the Department of Health, and a year later began teaching at Minnesota State University-Mankato State.

He returned to Missouri Southern in 1996 as the assistant to the dean of the School of Education. He served as chair of the Department of Teacher Education from 2005 to 2012, when he was appointed interim dean of the School of Education before being named the school’s dean.

His service to the Southern campus included work as the faculty advisor for the Southern IMPACT program, a member of the administrative council, the shared governance and strategic planning committees and the athletic council. He also helped develop the campus’ diversity committee, which now sponsors the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service.

His passion for education served as a beacon for students at Missouri Southern.

“Dr. Cade had a particularly soft heart for the academically struggling student,” said Olive Talley, Cade’s administrative assistant. “He would often email or call students to see how they were doing, if they were happy and if he could help them in any way. He would have them come to his office to chat about school, life, home, their goals and dreams, and was even known to pay test fees for students who suffered financial hardship.”

Along with serving on various committees for the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and Missouri Advisory Council of Certification for Educators, he served as vice president and president for the Missouri Association for Blacks in Higher Education for seven years.

Cade’s call to service was also evident within the Joplin community.

He served as an executive board member as well as vice president for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Missouri, the city of Joplin Human Rights Commission and the city’s Schools & Community Facilities Committee, as well the Miracle League of Joplin and the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence. He served as chair of the annual George Washington Carver Art and Essay Contest, which the university co-sponsored with the Carver Birthplace Association.

He was also involved with the Joplin Area Special Olympics, Joplin Chamber of Commerce Golden Apple Teacher Award Selection Committee and the Langston Hughes Celebration Committee.

In 2013, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from NWMSU. He had previously been inducted into the NWMSU Athletic Hall of Fame, in 2003.

In 2014, he was elected to two positions serving two statewide groups dedicated to strengthening teacher education programs. He was elected to the executive board for the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, a state affiliate of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, as well as vice-chairman for the Missouri Council of Education Deans.

Cade served on state and national accreditation examination boards for the assessment review of teacher education programs at universities in Missouri and across the country.

He leaves behind his wife, Dorothy Cade, and children Christopher and Keisha Smith; his mother, Marie Cade; his siblings Rick Cade, Joi Marie Cade, Lorine Webb, and Sherri Rawlings; and his grandchildren Brant Smith, Alyssa Smith, Destini Smith, Christopher Smith, and Jalynn Smith-Ward. He was preceded in death by his father, Alfred Cade.

Service arrangements are pending and will be announced when they are finalized.