Crowd gathers to honor late Chief Justice Cady at Des Moines memorial

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Iowans gathered Wednesday to celebrate the life of Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady.

A men's choir performs at a public memorial service for the late Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 (KCCI)

Cady died unexpectedly Friday at age 66.

He has been with the Iowa Supreme Court since 1998 and was appointed Chief Justice in 2011.

One decade ago, Cady wrote the unanimous opinion making same-sex marriage legal in Iowa. Last year, Cady led a 5-2 majority decision striking down a 72-hour waiting period for abortions.

He was also concerned with the safety of courthouses and championed the end of life without parole for juveniles under 18.

Cady is survived by his wife, two children and four grandchildren.

Courtney Reyes, executive director of One Iowa said she would not be able to move forward with her work for equality in Iowa without Cady's decision.

She said Justice Cady helped make what One Iowa works toward possible.

“To let them be their best selves, to show up every day to be who they want to be with, who they are, to express their gender in the way that they can. Let them do that,” Rays said. “That just makes our world more vibrant and more beautiful and when we have courts that help support that it's easier to do that."

The Iowa Supreme Court announced plans Tuesday to build a learning center at the Iowa Judicial Building in honor of Cady and his work.