All of us at the Cato Institute are saddened to announce the passing of David H. Padden, one of our original Board members, at the age of 84. Dave took Emeritus Director status a couple of years ago, but for our entire 34 years he was closely involved in Cato’s activities, as director, contributor, and constant reminder of the principles on which we were founded. Ed Crane, Cato’s co-founder and president, often called him “the conscience of the Cato Institute.”
Dave was a Chicago businessman, the president and founder of Padden and Co. and Padco Lease Corp. A onetime conservative, he saw the light in the 1970s and became a radical and devoted libertarian. He created the Loop Libertarian League, a group that met monthly at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago to discuss politics and philosophy. At various times he was a director of Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Acton Institute, the Bionomics Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Center for Libertarian Studies. Besides his long service with Cato, he was best known as the founder of the Heartland Institute, where he served as chairman from 1984 to 1995.
Dave graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and received an MBA from Harvard. And while he devoted a great deal of time to studying liberty and helping build institutions to protect it, he knew that politics isn’t all of life. He was married to Joan for 61 years, a father of 7, a devoted grandfather and great-grandfather, a director of St. Xavier College and the Epilepsy Foundation, and a lifelong supporter of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. R.I.P.