Samuel A. Cathey ’67

The Honorable Samuel Allen Cathey, 78, of Alexander, North Carolina, passed away at his home on Saturday, May 13, 2023.

Judge Cathey was born March 15, 1945, in Iredell County, to the late George Bartlett Cathey and Rosalie Wallace Cathey. A 1963 graduate of Statesville High School, and a third generation alum of Davidson College, he earned his law degree at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Judge Cathey was a proud veteran of the U.S. Army and a recipient of the Bronze Star for his actions in the Vietnam Conflict. He married his beloved wife, Sandra Gibson Cathey, in 1975.

During his full and rich life, Judge Cathey served as Assistant District Attorney, and in 1982, Governor Jim Hunt appointed him as the youngest Judge in North Carolina history. He served as Judge and Chief Judge for more than 30 years, and at his retirement, Governor Mike Easley recognized his outstanding service and commitment to the State of North Carolina by awarding him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. After his retirement he continued to serve as a state emergency judge, holding court in numerous counties.

Judge Cathey has always been known for his deep humor, his ability to bring positivity to all those around him, and most of all, his abiding love for the outdoors and ornithology. He committed himself to his community as a Rotarian and was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow, and served on the Board of Lake Norman State Park. He never ceased his love of hiking, exploring new trails, and always looking for the road less traveled. In his own humble way, Judge Cathey was proud to have completed the Appalachian Trail in its entirety.

Active with youth sports at the Statesville YMCA, he also founded the Hiking Club at the YMCA, and was an active volunteer in the Boy Scouts. Always with a song at the ready, he routinely shared his love of music, vast repertoire of tunes, and joyous singing voice with his family and friends and in the church choir.

A proud and loving father and deeply committed family man, Judge Cathey took great delight in his family, talking about them to anyone who would listen, and enjoying even the simplest moments of time together. In addition to his wife, Sandra, Judge Cathey is survived by his son, Michael Gibson (Kathryn) Cathey, daughter, Captain Emily A. Cathey, USN, deployed on USS NIMITZ (Captain F. Curtis Jones, USN, retired), his son, Alexander Allen Cathey, his grandchildren, Carson Jones, Kyra Jones, Lillian Jones, Eleanor Jones, and Dashiell Cathey. He is further survived by his brother, Commander Robert Wallace (Maggi) Cathey, USCG, retired, his sister Georgia Ann Cathey, and his nephews.

A visitation for family and friends will be held on Monday, May 22, 2023, from 5 until 7 p.m. at Troutman Funeral Home. A funeral service celebrating the life of Judge Cathey will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, 2023, at First Presbyterian Church of Statesville. The Reverend Stephen Scott will officiate.

A burial service with full military honors will be held at 1 p.m. at Oakwood Cemetery, with longtime friend Frank Goldsmith honoring him with the playing of taps. Pallbearers will be: Joel Harbinson, Michael Cathey, Allen Cathey, Dashiell Cathey, Curt Jones, and Billy Webb. Online condolences may be made to the Cathey family at

Those wishing to make memorials are asked to consider:

First Presbyterian Church Statesville, General Fund, 125 North Meeting Street, Statesville, NC 28677

First Presbyterian Church Statesville, Music Department, 125 North Meeting Street, Statesville, NC 28677

North Carolina Friends of State Parks, Inc., PO Box 37655, Raleigh, NC 27627

Audubon North Carolina, 807 East Main Street, Suite 2-220 Durham, NC 27701