Charles P. "Pat" CadiganDecember 2, 1935 ~ May 15, 2017 (age 81)
Charles P. “Pat” Cadigan, 81, of Duluth died peacefully on Monday May 15, 2017 at St. Luke’s Hospital. His last night on earth was spent in a room full of his loving family, overlooking Lake Superior and a lightning storm that seemed to beckon him on.
Pat was born in Superior, WI on December 2, 1935 to Charles Patrick and Mary (Rock) Cadigan. In addition to his most important roles as husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, Pat was a beloved local radio broadcaster, polka booster, community icon, and (behind the scenes) supporter of low-income housing.
After growing up in Superior, Pat attended college
at the University of Minnesota Duluth where he helped put KUMD on the air as a student in the late 50’s. KUMD received more than one 'cease and desist' letter from the FCC because of its lack of “technical adequacy” but kept on anyway. Pat’s taste for maverick radio was born.
After college, his first commercial radio job was at WDSM where a change in evening programming left a gap, allowing Pat "The Cat" to step in and introduce the Twin Ports to rock-n-roll. After serving two years in the U.S. Army and being stationed in Hawaii, Pat returned to the Northland and to radio in 1959. He was on air at WEBC, WDSM, and WQMN before KDAL hired him in 1961. Other than a 7-year break to be full time in real estate from 1974 to 1982, Pat was on air at KDAL from 1961 until April 2017.
During his 56 years in commercial radio Pat evolved with technology and kept community connection his focus. His first days in the booth were just him, a mic, and putting vinyl on a turntable. His last broadcasts were the radio we know today: all digital, including national syndicate programming, producers, co-hosts, news, and commercials. Whatever the technology, he always understood the power of and loved interacting with the community. He was part of people’s lives, not just a voice in their kitchen or car. Pat especially liked promotions or on air shows where listeners called in. An early example of this was the 1962 “Would you trust your kids with him?” contest. Pat, then a young bachelor, offered to spend a night babysitting for a mother who wrote a persuasive letter about needing a night out. Even though the family that won had nine children, Pat loved the bit. Pat also loved his role as emcee or host covering community events, including the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and Grandma’s Marathon.
Pat loved to say that he was the first to play Elvis over the radio waves in the Twin Ports. Among his earliest listeners was Robert Zimmerman, now Bob Dylan, who mentions Pat in his autobiography Chronicles Volume One. The majority of his time at KDAL Pat did the morning news and talk show. He had a number of co-hosts over the years, but longest standing was comrade Rik Jordan. The Cadigan-Jordan morning show ran Monday through Friday for 26 years on KDAL. In recent years Pat also hosted the Saturday morning Midwest Polka Party where he delighted in sharing “the happiest music this side of heaven,” finding polka versions of non-polka songs, like Purple Haze, and exposing listeners to related genres like Zydeco, Tex Mex, and Mariachi music. He worked on the air six days a week until just weeks before his death.
Pat, a member of the Polka Hall of Fame, was part of the Chmielewski Fun Time Orchestra, acting as an emcee, bass player, and singer for the band during performances across the U.S. and Canada and on a weekly TV show that was on air for many years. He considered Florian Chmielewski a brother, and they remained close until Pat’s passing.
In 1997, Pat bought and started managing the Carter Hotel in downtown Duluth, a room-by-the-month rental unit. He managed the property by being on site every day and served as a bit of a protector of his tenants, providing not only affordable housing but kindness and humanity as well. After selling the Carter, Pat and his wife Barb bought the building at 329 Canal Park Drive where Pat attended to the upstairs renters there in a similar fashion until selling it in 2015. His passion for supporting these residents in the Duluth community was a significant part of his last few decades and he grew very attached to “his guys.”
To his family, Pat was a goofball. He liked practical jokes and acting silly in public, talking to statues and totem poles, using made up words when talking to store clerks. He was a big napper, having been up for work by 4 am all his adult life. He loved sitting on the balcony or beach with his wife Barbie and watching storms and sunsets. He loved snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats, and cars. Into his seventies Pat could be seen around town on his motorcycle or scooter, grey ponytail flying behind him. A few years ago he and Barb took a Greyhound bus to Richmond, Virginia to pick up a baby blue 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood that now has plates that read PATS CAD. He was an especially big part of the lives of his grandchildren Morgan, Hailey and Cannon. We all can’t quite imagine life without his voice.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Ann LeClaire, Tish Cadigan and Frances Day; son-in-law Tony Depta; grandson Dane Cadigan; and niece Letitia (Murdoch) Jordan.
He is survived and terribly missed by his wife Barbara; his six children: Robyn (Matt Miner) Cadigan, Becky (Scott Vukelich) Depta, Kathy (Craig Krysiak) Cadigan, Jennifer (Tom Zimbeck) Cadigan; Karen (Jonathan Lips) Cadigan and Charles “Bill” Cadigan; his eight grandchildren: Danielle (Brian Rink) Richardson, and Jory, Landon, Kaitlyn, Morgan, Hailey, Charles “Cannon”, and Kathleen Cadigan; two great grandsons Connor Cadigan and Harrison Rink; his sister Mary (Ian) Murdoch, and several nieces and nephews.
Our family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at St. Mary’s Essentia and the Lakeshore Fountains while he was admitted and in residence there. We especially would like to thank the St. Luke’s 5 East ICU team that helped him fight for life until the end, and the 6 West team that treated him and us with such care and kindness his last days. Our family holds dear the time we were able to spend together with him so we could support a peaceful passing.
An Irish wake will be held at the Great Hall of the Duluth Depot from 3- 6 pm on Friday, May 19. Please bring pictures and memorabilia of Pat’s life, and your accordion if you have one! A private family burial will be held later.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made in Pat’s name to the Damiano Center at http://www.damianocenter.org/donate or 206 West 4th Street, Duluth, MN 55806.
Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home.
The Damiano Center
206 West 4th Street, Duluth MN 55806