Van Roy Southworth, 1949-2019

Van Roy Southworth, 70, originally from Yelm, Wash., passed away July 23, 2019, surrounded by his family. Roy was born in Olympia, Wash., June 10, 1949, to Harry and Georgiana Southworth. Along with his older sister, Kay, he was raised in Yelm, Wash.

Roy earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Washington State University in 1971, and was Phi Beta Kappa. 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 degree 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, Nev. 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 D.C., 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), benefitting 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; sister, Kay Martin of Oro Valley, Ariz.; his three children, Carrie Southworth Johnson of Los Angeles, Lucy Southworth of Palo Alto and McLain Southworth of Woodside, Calif.; 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.