In Memoriam: Dr. Walter Cathey

Pharmacist, business owner and civic leader Walter Cathey, PharmD ’62, who led the USC School of Pharmacy’s diversity initiative for nearly a decade, passed away on Friday, December 25. He was 83.

Throughout his career, he owned and operated pharmacies, held executive marketing positions with national pharmaceutical distributors, handled government contracts for a large health maintenance organization and worked on policy issues for a research and development company.

Following a successful 46-year career in pharmacy, Cathey returned to USC in 2008 as special advisor on diversity, driven by a mission of inspiring young people to pursue a career in pharmacy. “Today’s pharmacists play a pivotal role in our health care continuum,” he said. “I want students of color to know about our profession and the high degree of satisfaction it provides to those who pursue it.”

Always committed to new ideas, sharing his expertise and serving the business and political communities of the city and county of Los Angeles, he also served as CEO of the Institute for Community Pharmacy, a non-profit organization that promotes community pharmacy, prior to returning to USC.

Leading by Example

Mentoring the next generation was a passion.

“As an African-American who has achieved success and great satisfaction through my pharmacy career, I want to lend a hand to today’s minority students and help them realize their dreams,” said Cathey, who was the only African American in his USC PharmD class of 1962. “Part of this effort is to simply get out and let students meet professionals – like pharmacists – who look just like them.”

In addition to serving as special advisor on diversity to both Dean Pete Vanderveen and Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos, Cathey served as faculty advisor to the USC chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), and was a longtime scholarship donor.

“Dr. Cathey was incredibly committed to mentoring the next generation and to opening the field of pharmacy,” said Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos. “The School of Pharmacy is forever touched by his contributions.”

Cathey is survived by his wife Judith, son Walter Cathey Jr. and Macqueline, grandchildren Blakeley and Chase, stepchildren Nicole and David Beaubien and a host of nieces and nephews.

Donations in memory of Dr. Walter Cathey may be made to the USC School of Pharmacy Diversity Scholarship Fund. Additionally, condolence messages may be sent to the family care of the USC School of Pharmacy Advancement Office:

The Cathey Family
c/o Cheryl Stanovich (
USC School of Pharmacy
1985 Zonal Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90089