Unruly Entrepreneur Pioneered Electronic Medical Devices

As a boy,

Michael J. Cudahy

was identified for pranks.

When his father was U.S. ambassador to Poland, younger Mike taught himself to make exploding cigarettes. One of them singed the mustache of a Polish standard at a diplomatic reception.

He later skipped school and had hassle settling into a job.

In his 40s, nevertheless,


r. Cudahy co-launched Marquette Electronics Inc., a revolutionary maker of professional medical machines that withstood competitiveness from considerably larger corporations, like 3M Co. and

Hewlett-Packard Co.

Marquette, dependent in Milwaukee, got off to a rocky start off in the mid-1960s. Some of the company’s early electrocardiogram, or EKG, equipment leaked so much electrical power that they could have risked electrocuting sufferers, Mr. Cudahy wrote afterwards. Immediately after merchandise quality improved, Marquette thrived as an intercontinental provider of significant-tech medical center machines, which include client-checking products.

A self-explained “benevolent dictator,” Mr. Cudahy spurned these kinds of corporate conventions as meetings, consultants and organizational charts. His manufacturing unit employees didn’t have to punch the clock and were being on an honor program. His business office cafeteria made available beer and wine at lunchtime. Mr. Cudahy, who favored a glass of Early Occasions whiskey with his lunch, trusted his colleagues not to overindulge.

He offered the company to

Standard Electric powered Co.

for about $824 million in 1998. Mr. Cudahy then devoted himself to philanthropy and civic results in in Milwaukee, notably a renovation of the Pabst Theater, that includes a new place known as Cudahy’s Irish Pub.

He died March 11 at his home in the Milwaukee suburb of Cedarburg. He was 97.

Michael John Cudahy (pronounced CUD-uh-hay) was born in 1924 and grew up partly in Milwaukee. His father, John Cudahy, a lawyer and serious-estate govt, was appointed U.S. ambassador to Poland below President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later on served as U.S. minister to the Irish Cost-free Condition and ambassador to Belgium.

Before his initially appointment, “I really do not feel the aged male knew a bloody issue about becoming an ambassador,” Mr. Cudahy wrote in his 2002 memoir, “Joyworks.”

Though living in Warsaw, younger Mike realized how to produce an exploding cigarette by injecting glue. He slipped 1 into a silver cigarette box. The basic who lit it up was furious. Ambassador Cudahy couldn’t suppress a smirk but warned Mike by no means to do that yet again.

Acquiring renounced explosives, the young gentleman looked for watches, file gamers and other devices to take aside and learn how they worked. All around age 10, he invented a gadget that would switch on a hallway light-weight when somebody stepped on a specified location in the carpet.

Later, when his father was stationed in Dublin, Mike discovered to be a ham radio operator and was thrilled to talk by radio to a person in Havana.

Through Globe War II, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps. “I was a spoiled brat, and the support was about to knock this unattractive characteristic out of me,” he wrote. After schooling in radio and radar engineering, he became a instructor of those courses and was spared from overseas responsibility.

Once discharged from the military services, he determined to hop straight into the occupation market place relatively than going to university. In New York, he identified audio work for NBC television. An acquaintance there received him commenced on a undertaking to place Muzak on airplanes to soothe travellers. That led to a assembly with Warren Cozzens in Chicago, who wanted to set Muzak on trains. Mr. Cudahy shortly started doing the job with Mr. Cozzens as a product sales representative for electronics firms.

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Fearing that “we’d conclude up like the dude in ‘Death of a Salesman,’” Messrs. Cudahy and Cozzens made a decision to turn out to be brands. They tried using creating an digital bass fiddle controlled by a pedal—allowing musicians to engage in the piano and fiddle at the exact same time—but couldn’t provide it.

A clinical medical professional requested them to arrive up with a much better way to screen details from EKGs, which file electrical activity in the heart. Messrs. Cudahy and Cozzens invested $7,500 each in what grew to become Marquette Electronics and started devising a machine that could transmit details from the patient’s bedside to a central terminal for examination. That removed the will need for shuffling paper.

The initial design was delivered to Northwestern University’s clinical university in 1964. Then arrived the headaches: “Designs didn’t function, the purchaser did not pay out, the cash ran brief, and I labored 15 hrs a day,” Mr. Cudahy recalled.

As for the electrical leakage, he wrote, today’s regulators likely would never have authorised the first gadgets, but “we just didn’t know the risks.”

Right after offering the corporation he ran for 34 yrs, Mr. Cudahy felt misplaced. He regained his poise by concentrating on civic affairs, which include advice for Milwaukee politicians and items to the YMCA, Boys and Girls Golf equipment and Marquette College, whose prestige he experienced borrowed in naming his firm. In his absolutely free time, he tinkered in his household workshop, took photos and made documentaries.

Mr. Cudahy’s survivors incorporate five small children, 10 grandchildren and his wife, Lisa Cudahy, whom he divorced in the early 1990s but later remarried. A few previously marriages finished in divorce.

Of his frequent marriages, he wrote, “it looks to demonstrate that I have been careless in my judgment of girls, or intolerant, or immature, or difficult to dwell with.” Even so, he additional, “it was all properly logical each and every time I stepped up to the altar—at the very least in my mind.”

Produce to James R. Hagerty at [email protected]

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