Interesting People’s Ed Sutkowski interviews Hon. Joe Billy McDade, District Judge, U.S. District Court for Central Illinois.
Judge McDade was born in Raccoon Bend, Texas, population less than 100, received a $1,000 academic from Bradley University where he majored in Economics and ultimately received a Master’s of Arts in Psychology. As a sophomore member of the Bradley Braves, Judge McDade scored 220 points. He was a starter on three Bradley basketball teams ranked among the top 10 in the United States, and he was named to the NIT basketball team in 1959.
After Bradley, Judge McDade was drafted in the 9th round by the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals; instead, he chose to attend the University of Michigan Law School from which he graduated in 1963. He served as an attorney with the Anti-Trust Division of the United States Department of Justice, worked as the Executive Director of the Greater Peoria Legal Society and then engaged in private practice until 1982 when he was first elected to the bench as an Associate Circuit Court Judge. He was later a Circuit Court Judge and was appointed as a Federal District Court Judge in 1991. Judge McDade is the father of four children – an attorney, a physician, a high school science teacher and a pharmaceutical representative.
Among Judge McDade’s 25+ honors are the following: 1990 distinguished Alumnus Award from Bradley, Leadership Award from First Presbyterian Church Youth Retreat in 1966, City of Peoria Service Commendation from the Library Board in 1977, Service Award, UPGRADE – a non-profit housing corporation in 1982, Recognition Award from African-American Hall of Fame Museum, Inc. in 1991 and Award of Appreciation from Share Food Program of Central Illinois, Inc. in 1992.
Judge McDade recounts his motivational speech at the 20th Annual Illinois Basketball Coaches All-Star Game/Banquet and in particular, his suggestion that “Nobody plans to fail; but some schoolboy heroes fail to plan.” In addition, he exposes his adolescent dreams and feelings, including a poignant story about a door to door broom salesman visiting his grandmother’s home, and the landscape and the mechanics of his journey from Raccoon Bend, Texas to the Federal bench.