June 10, 1949-July 23, 2019
Palo Alto, California
Contact the submitter
Van Roy Southworth, a resident of Palo Alto, died on July 23 surrounded by his family. He was 70 years old.
Roy was born in Olympia, Washington, on June 10, 1949, to Harry Augustus and Georgiana Southworth. Along with his older sister, Kay, he was raised in Yelm, Washington. Roy earned a BA from Washington State University in Economics in 1971 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He then joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Ethiopia, where his love for international service was born.
Upon returning from the Peace Corps, Roy earned a master's and Ph.D. from the Food Research Institute at Stanford University. In 1976, after a late-night dare, he eloped with Cathy McLain of San Leandro, to Reno, Nevada. They went on to be married until his death, 43 years later.
Following a brief research stint in Ghana, Roy accepted a role at the World Bank in Washington DC, where he spent the remaining 29 years of his career. While at the World Bank he lived and worked in Tanzania and Croatia, before ultimately retiring in the country of Georgia in 2008. Cathy and Roy’s love for the country led them and a local partner to co-found The McLain Association for Children (MAC), benefiting vulnerable children and adults in Georgia. As country manager for the World Bank, Roy was also instrumental in the founding of ISET, an economic university in Tbilisi. Cathy and Roy became citizens of Georgia in 2018 and split their time between Palo Alto and Georgia in his final years.
Roy will be remembered for his irreverent humor, his unwavering optimism, and his open heart for all family and friends. Affable and good-natured, he was a peacemaker and fervently altruistic. Roy loved spending time with his many grandkids and discovered a passion for kiteboarding late in life.
Roy is survived by his wife Cathy McLain, his sister Kay Martin of Oro Valley, AZ, his three children, Carrie Southworth Johnson of Los Angeles, Lucy Southworth of Palo Alto, McLain Southworth of Woodside, CA, his many grandchildren, and his loyal dog Harry.
A celebration of his life will take place at a future date and details will be shared with friends and family later in the year. Online condolences may be shared on Roy’s Facebook profile, and in lieu of flowers, Roy wished for donations to MAC.