Cover photo for Wade Thomas Cathey Jr.'s Obituary
Wade Thomas Cathey Jr. Profile Photo
1936 Wade 2016

Wade Thomas Cathey Jr.

November 30, 1936 — July 7, 2016

Wade Thomas "Tom" Cathey, Jr., 78, of Boulder, CO, loving husband, father, grandfather and brother, passed away at his home on July 7th. Tom was a kind and gentle man with a keen sense of humor who contributed greatly to the scientific community. He had a unique zest for life and enjoyed everything he did. He loved to ski, hike, sail, camp, play golf and travel. He lived in the moment, rarely complained and was blessed with a child-like curiosity which made him a success in his business and personal life. Tom was born on November 26, 1937 to Wade and Evelyn (Waters) Cathey, in Greer, South Carolina. He was a member of the 1st graduation class of Chapman High School, Inman, South Carolina where he played football and basketball and drove a school bus at age 15. Tom received his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering (EE) from the University of South Carolina in 1961. He graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a Ph.D. in EE. Afterward he took a job at Autonetics Research Center in Anaheim, CA. conducting research in pattern recognition, holography and laser arrays. In 1968 Tom and his family moved to Boulder, where he became a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder and Denver campuses. In 1974 his book, Optical Information Processing and Holography was published, becoming what many considered the seminal book in the field. Tom was awarded an NSF grant in May 1987 to start the NSF Engineering Research Center for Optoelectronic Computing Systems (OCS). This was the largest grant awarded to CU at the time. Tom was the Director of the OCS from its initiation in 1987 until August 1993. In 1997 he started CDM Optics in Boulder with partners R.C. "Merc" Mercure and Ed Dowski. CDM developed Wavefront Coding technology, a cutting edge depth of field imaging system. In 2015, Tom and Juan Rodriguez started Ubifocal to look at using extended depth of field for human vision. In his lifetime, Tom was honored with several awards and fellowships including the Joseph Fraunhoffer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize for contributions to Computational Optical Imaging and its Commercial Application[CC1] awarded by the Optical Society of America in October 2013. He was a Fellow of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Optical Society of America and a member of several honor societies including Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. Tom was awarded 23 patents. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Cherilynn (Isberg) Cathey, daughters Susan Cathey Union and Cheryl Ann Cathey, grandchildren Erika Union and Cole Thomas Gillespie, and siblings Benjamin Theodore Cathey and Deborah Cathey Moore. A service will be held for Tom on Saturday, August 13 at 2 pm, First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, 1820 15th St., Boulder, CO 80302 with a reception following. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer you make a donation in Tom's name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at or to the University of Colorado Foundation Tom and Cherilynn Cathey Flatirons Fund.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Starts at 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

First Presbyterian Church

1820 15th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

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