Wade Thomas Cathey, Jr.

In Memoriam: Wade Thomas Cathey, Jr., 1937-2016

July 07, 2016

Wade Thomas Cathey, Jr.Wade Thomas “Tom” Cathey, Jr., an OSA Fellow and an expert in the field of optical engineering, passed away on 7 July 2016 at the age of 78.  Cathey was known as a pioneer in wavefront coding, a technology used in optical imaging systems, and received the OSA Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize in 2013 for seminal contributions to the field of computational optical imaging and its commercial application.
Cathey received his BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Carolina in 1961. He attend Yale University and received his PhD in 1963, and then worked at Autonetics Research Center in Anaheim, CA, before moving to Boulder, Colorado.  Cathey became a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder and Denver campuses. His book, Optical Information Processing and Holography, published in 1974 was considered the seminal book in the field.  Cathey was the Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Optoelectronic Computing Systems (OCS) from 1987-1993.  He was co-founder of both CDM Optics and Ubifocal and was awarded 23 patents during his career.   
Cathey received numerous awards among them being a Fellow of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and The Optical Society. He was also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. Cathey served on a number of OSA Committees including the Board of Editors (1997-78); Fellow Members Committee (1993); and Publications Council Member (1979).  In addition to his contributions to the scientific community, Cathey was devoted to his family and enjoyed skiing, hiking, playing golf, and traveling.  He is survived by his wife Cherilynn (Isberg) Cathey and his daughters Susan and Cheryl, grandchildren Ericka and Cole, and siblings Benjamin and Deborah.  A memorial service for Cathey is scheduled for 13 August at the First Presbyterian Church in Boulder, CO.

OSA Awards Won

Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize