Gilbert H. Cady

1882 to 1970
Coal Geology

Gilbert H. CadyGilbert Haven Cady, pre-eminent coal scientist and outstanding gentleman, was affectionately called "Doc" by his peers and the large number of coal scientists whose lives he touched. For more than 60 years, Cady was steadily affiliated, either full or part-time, with the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). In 1926, he served as Senior Geologist and Head of the Coal Division, a position he held until his retirement in 1951.

From his earliest days, Cady established a unique relationship with the personnel of the coal mining industry of Illinois. Their very high professional regard for him and their recognition that he exemplified the highest levels of dedication and integrity resulted in their voluntarily furnishing to the Survey a wide variety of data that proved to be of great value in coal geology research.

Aside from his own contributions, Cady was responsible for initiating several research programs related to coal geology. Research on the use of spores for the correlation of coal seams was started at his instigation in the early 1930s, about 20 years before the value of such work was widely acknowledged in the United States. Similarly ahead of his time and of lasting value were his efforts in establishing a standardized coal classification; studies on coal preparation, utilization, and mineral matter in coal; and his pioneering use of oil test geophysical logs for mapping the structure of coals.

Within months of acquisition of electronic data-processing equipment at the University of Illinois in 1936, Cady had members of his staff using this equipment for coal resources studies. Results were first published in 1938 and have had wide database and computer mapping applications more or less continuously ever since. His studies of coal resources continued throughout most of his association with the ISGS and climaxed with the comprehensive report on minable coal reserves of Illinois, published in 1952, which has served as a model for similar reports elsewhere.

Cady's greatest contribution, however, may actually have been the inspiration of other coal geologists. His influence on U.S. geologists had a strong effect on the field of coal geology and greatly stimulated coal research. Cady was the object of profound professional respect by colleagues and associates and of deep affection by those who knew him well. His personal and professional vigor in his retirement years was a source of inspiration-he was still going to his office for a full day's work until only a few days before his death in 1970. Cady was a deeply religious and personally charitable man, and his gentle and scholarly background reflected the dignity of his life and faith.

Honored by: 
Jack A. Simon
Citation Contributed by: 
Christopher Korose
From his GSA memorial, written by Jack A. Simon, 1970.