Marcus B. (Mark) Simpson, Jr. ’67

Marcus B. (Mark) Simpson, Jr. passed away November 19, 2023 in Hendersonville, NC.

Mark was born to Marcus B. Simpson, Sr. and Nora Grace Simpson 79 years ago in Sanford, NC and grew up in Statesville, NC.   Mark had an endless curiosity about the natural world that was especially inspired by his father and by his favorite teacher, Lois Goforth.  His love of nature and especially birds led him to join the Carolina Bird Club as a teenager in the 1960’s long before it was cool to be a young birder.  Legendary CBC contributor and author Eloise Potter encouraged his interest and an accidental meeting (staring at a bird and running into the car he was following on a birding trip) with ornithologist and author Roger Tory Peterson sealed the deal.

Mark went on to study biology at Davidson College where he met fellow birders and lifetime friends Doug Pratt, Sterling Southern, and Jim Davidson.  He studied biology under renowned professor Thomas (Bugs) Daggy, who further contributed to his interest in the natural world. From there Mark continued on to medical school at UNC-Chapel Hill and completed his internship and residency at Yale and Johns Hopkins Universities.  After serving in the US Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital he had a highly successful and productive career as a Pathologist, both teaching and directinghospital laboratories at Duke University, George Washington University, the University of Pittsburgh, and finally returning home to North Carolina to retire from his final position at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.  He loved writing and was a prolific contributor to medical journals specializing in blood banking and transfusions.

As busy as his career kept him, medicine was never his only interest.  He always found time for his love of ornithology and natural history and was a frequent contributor to such publications as “the North Carolina Historical Review”, “the Archives of Natural History”, as well as decades of contributions to the quarterly publication of the Carolina Bird Club, “The Chat.”  His specialty in the birds of the Southern Appalachians culminated in his tour de force 1992 publication of Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains (UNC Press).

Mark was preceded in death by his talented first wife, Sally Simpson, with whom he contributed articles on early whaling off the NC coast, and is survived by his second wife, Marilyn Westphal, who shared his passion for birds and the mountains and with whom he contributed articles on breeding Hermit Thrushes and Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Southern Appalachians.

Mark was a truly remarkable person who will be greatly missed by his friends and relatives, and he was a kind, loving husband and best friend to his heartbroken wife Marilyn.

A memorial service will be held for Mark in spring 2024 in his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains.  Exact location will be announced.  All are welcome to contribute to the memory of Mark with donations to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation or Conserving Carolina.

Ralph Erskine Blakely, Jr. ’67

Ralph Erskine Blakely, Jr. died of lymphoma on August 31, 2023 in Mount Pleasant, SC. Ralph was born on May 7, 1945, in Rock Hill, SC to Ralph Erskine Blakely and Ollie Mae Freeman Blakely.

Ralph grew up in Rock Hill in a close-knit family. From childhood he was fascinated by the sounds and structure of pipe organs. At nursery school he amazed the staff by building an organ from blocks, which he “played” with panache; at church he refused to leave the sanctuary until the last notes of the postlude had sounded.

He attended Winthrop Training School and graduated from Rock Hill High School. He received the BA from Davidson College, where he majored in Music and Classics. After a brief period of graduate study in organ, he apprenticed himself to an organbuilder in Charlotte, NC. He then founded Blakely Organbuilders on Depot Street in Davidson, which built and maintained pipe organs in the Southeast, from Georgia to Virginia.

Following their retirement, he and his partner, Wilmer Hayden Welsh, the Davidson Chapel organist and professor of music, moved in 1994 to Tradd Street in Charleston. There Ralph became a keen supporter of the Gibbes Museum of Art, where he served on the Board of Directors; he was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Storm Eye Institute and an active supporter of Davidson College. In downtown Charleston he was a familiar figure as he walked his Great Dane. After Bill’s death in 2008, Ralph revived his interest in Greek and translated Homer’s Iliad into English prose as a memorial to him; it was published in 2015 by Forge Press. In 2021, he moved to South Bay in Mount Pleasant, SC and in 2022 to the Shem Creek Health Center at South Bay.

Ralph is survived by his sisters, Mary Blakely Speer (Eugene Speer) of Cranbury, NJ and Jennie Blakely Benton (Douglas Benton) of Church Hill, TN; one nephew, David Benton; a great-niece, Bailee Benton and a great-nephew, Waylon Benton, all of Church Hill. The family is grateful to Paula Singleton for her devoted care of Ralph in these last months. Burial will be private. Memorials may be sent to the Storm Eye Institute of the Medical University of South Carolina ( or to Davidson College ( 

Nelson “Skip” Andrew Waite ’67

Nelson Andrew Waite, Jr. (Skip) passed away in Houston, Texas on July 30, 2023. Skip was born on March 31, 1945, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Mr. & Mrs. Nelson Waite. He is preceded in death by his parents, Nelson A. Waite, Sr, and Anne Dunlap Waite. He is survived by his brothers, Richard D. Waite (Kimberly) of Santa Rosa, CA, and Philip T. Waite of Spartanburg, SC. He is also survived by his son, Gregory Scott Waite (Victoria), four grandchildren Sage, Dakota, Noah & Elizabeth Waite, great granddaughter Kirra and his nephew, Ricky Waite. Lastly, Skip is survived by numerous cousins from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Savannah, GA, where the family roots began, his extended family in California who know him as “Uncle Skip” and several loving friends from Houston, TX.

Skip was quite an athlete playing football, basketball, and baseball in his high school years, where he graduated from Glenrock High School in Glen Rock, New Jersey. He went on to play baseball for Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina where he earned a Psychology in 1967. After graduating from Davidson and the ROTC program he joined the Army as an officer in a tank battalion serving our country for 4 years. After returning home from his time in the Army to his then wife, Nancy, and son Scott, he went on to begin his career in the insurance industry in Chicago at Chubb & Sons. Skip later divorced and moved to Houston, TX continuing to work in the insurance industry. He had a stellar career serving as an Officer with Chubb & Son, Inc, VP with Marsh & McLennan, VP with Reed Alexander Stenhouse of TX, VP with River Oaks Insurance Services and retiring with AON Insurance Services.

Skip’s passions in life when not working included teaching his son, Scott, how to play ball, sailing, golfing, playing tennis and spending many hours pouring over the Julia Childs cookbook while cooking fabulous dinners for many friends and family over the years. He belonged to “gourmet supper clubs” with dear friends, and also enjoyed hosting dinners in his home. His favorite annual trips were to California at Christmas time to see his son, Scott, and 4 grandchildren, Sage, Dakota, Noah & Elizabeth…and always an annual trip at Thanksgiving to spend time with his brother, Rick and his family, visiting the wine country and hosting “his dinner” at Bacci Café in Healdsburg with extended family.

Per Skip’s request, no formal services will be held, instead please prepare your favorite meal with your loved ones and toast him with a great bottle of French wine, his favorite!

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

Bertram Carlos “Buddy” Finch III ’67

Bertram “Buddy” Carlos Finch III, M.D., 78, of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, husband of Justine Blow Finch, entered into eternal rest on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

His Memorial Service will be held Thursday, March 30, 2023, in First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, 53 Meeting Street, Charleston, at 2:00 in the afternoon. The family will receive friends after the service in Molly Weir Fellowship Hall. Interment will be private.

The oldest of five children, Buddy was born January 17, 1945. He was the son of the late Bertram Carlos Finch, Jr. and the late Dorothy Falls Finch. Buddy was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, while his father was interned as a POW during World War II. After his father returned to the United States, the family moved to Charlotte, where Buddy spent his formative years. In 1963, he graduated from Myers Park High School where he played football and was a member of the Student Council, Hi-Y, Key Club, and National Honor Society.

Buddy attended Davidson College after high school and graduated in 1967 with a BS in PreMed. He entered the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and earned an MD degree in 1971. Although Buddy was attracted to several medical specialties, he embraced Obstetrics and Gynecology. One week after earning his medical degree from UNC, Buddy married Justine Blow from Smithfield, North Carolina. They moved to Charleston, where Buddy continued his training with a one-year general medical internship and a four-year OB-GYN residency under the leadership of Dr. Lawrence Hester at the Medical University of South Carolina. During residency, many enduring bonds were formed with other doctors who were experiencing the same grueling hours and challenges. Throughout his life, Buddy cherished friendships and camaraderie with these fellow physicians.

After residency, Buddy’s deferred military service was activated by the United States Army Medical Corps. He served two years as a Major in Wurzburg, Germany. After deciding to make Charleston their permanent home, Buddy and Justine returned from Germany in 1978 with two daughters, Kathryn Leigh Finch and Justine Lindsay Finch.

Buddy joined Dr. Fraser Wilson and Dr. Watson Finger in their private OB-GYN practice. He later joined Dr. Edward Huggins and practiced with Dr. James Townsend, Dr. Granger Osborne, and others during his 36 years as a dedicated Obstetrics and Gynecology physician in the Charleston community.

Buddy Finch was honest, kind, and trustworthy with a quick wit and a warm smile. Foremost, he was a family man, always prioritizing his experiences with his daughters and wife over other events or obligations. He was an active member of First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, where he served as a Deacon and an Elder. Buddy enjoyed exploring the waterways and surrounding islands near Charleston while sailing and motorboating. He also was privileged to join a group that spent multiple years of fellowship and fly fishing in Alaska. Buddy’s favorite vacations were bareboating with his family in tropical destinations.

For the last 14 years, he was proud of his new name, Pop, as he became a grandfather to two boys and two girls. He loved to visit them in Charlotte and California. Buddy is survived by his wife of 51 years, Justine; two daughters: Kathryn Finch Mileham, M.D. (Dunn) of Charlotte, NC and Justine Lindsay Trout (Carter) of San Mateo, CA; four grandchildren: Wells and Cooper Mileham and Ella and Charlotte Trout; one sister, Melinda Finch Adkins (Chuck) of Charlotte, NC; two brothers: David Ralls Finch (Eddie Lynn) of Charlotte, NC and William Douglas Finch (Cathy) of Pensacola, FL; brother-in-law, Gordon Lowry Blow (Wanda) of Smithfield, NC; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Susan Finch Caskey.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, 53 Meeting St., Charleston, SC 29401. Arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. Downtown Chapel. A memorial message may be sent to the family by visiting our website at