Jeff was born in Wichita, Kansas to Fred and Carol Cathey on June 20, 1961. He grew up with his younger sister, Melinda, and a dog named Timmy. Fred and Carol were devoted to Christ and raised their children to be as well. Jeff asked Christ to be his Savior as a child and followed His leading for the rest of his life.
He attended high school at Christian Challenge where he was nicknamed “Cat” and drove his beloved 1967 GTO which he rebuilt from a clunker that his dad bought him for $300. He was so proud of his GTO and got many tickets for “exhibition of power and speed”. His motto was “God, GTO, Girls”! As a teenager and throughout college, he was very active in the youth group at Colonial Heights Baptist Church where he made lifelong friends who later became Linda’s friends as well.
He graduated from high school in 1979 and attended Butler County Community College for a year before transferring to Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas. He had only planned to stay for a year to get a Bible certification, but ended up staying four years and graduating. During that time, he made many friends. One day while walking across campus with a friend, he saw a girl. He told his friend he was going to marry this girl. His friend told him he was crazy - the girl had a boyfriend and was way out of his league! This didn’t deter Jeff. He waited for the right time and asked her out in September of 1981. She said yes! The next morning he woke up to find that his GTO had been stolen. He said later, “God had to take the GTO out from between God and Girl”. After their first date, Jeff and Linda were a couple from then on. They got engaged on June 19, 1982, and got married on July 2, 1983.
Jeff and Linda served at Sherwood Park Baptist Church in many capacities while Jeff completed college. Jeff graduated from Arlington Baptist College in May 1984. Colonial Heights Baptist Church, his home church in Wichita, asked him to come serve as the associate and youth pastor. He accepted and he and Linda moved to Wichita in August 1984. He dove into his new positions full force and loved every minute of it. Jeff and Linda both fell in love with the teens in their youth ministry and “adopted” many as life- long children. That heart adoption of teens in their various ministries became a lifelong trend. During the second year there, Jeff and Linda bought an acre of property in the country near his parent’s house and with their help, built a house for themselves. All four would work during the day then meet at the house to work in the evenings. All free time was spent working on the house. They moved in Christmas of 1985.
On April 17, 1987, Jeff became a true father to Jonathan and although he didn’t know a thing about babies, took on that role with just as much gusto. After four years serving at the church, Jeff felt led to leave. He took a job a Boeing in their computer services department making $5.00 an hour. He also started to fulfill a dream by going to Friends University to get his Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. During this time, the family were active members at First Bible Baptist Church where they became connected to a very close knit group of life-long friends.
Benjamin was born on January 20, 1990. Life was very busy with Jeff working full time, going to school full time, a new baby who didn’t like to sleep, an extremely active 2 year old, and an exhausted wife. He persevered and graduated with his Master’s Degree in 1992.
Jacob was born on August 20, 1992. Soon after that, Jeff was laid off from Boeing. He took this time to start a counseling business called LifeSource Biblical Counseling with his main office at First Bible Baptist Church and a second one at Winfield Evangelical Free Church. He did his this for five years and was very successful. At that time, Marriage and Family Therapists could not take insurance. Jeff was too soft hearted to push people for payment, so money became an issue. He and Linda even began cleaning the church to have at least some steady income. The boys loved this time. The large church became their playground. Linda was going to school full time in the evenings to earn a second degree as a physical therapist assistant. It was a tough, yet fun time.
In 1987, Linda graduated and got her dream job of working with children with special needs at Rainbows United and Jeff got called back to Boeing. He took the job in order to pay the bills and debt. The boys were settled in school at Sunrise Christian Academy. Life was busy, but good, as it centered around the boys and their needs and activities as well as church and friends.
After the pastor retired around 1999, they felt God leading them to another church for important reasons. They felt Messiah Baptist Church was where they were supposed to be. It was a very hard move to leave behind dear friends. At Messiah Baptist, Jeff and Linda started working in the junior high class where they worked for many years. They worked in Judgement House. Jeff was most well known as the eggroll man. He would gather a small army of youth to help him roll and fry his famous eggrolls. They would be distributed to all the cast members of Judgement House where they would be devoured. Jeff’s eggrolls became a yearly tradition. He would take his vacations to take youth on rafting trips, ski trips, and to camp. He was a teaser and jokester, but could be a patient and compassionate listener and respond with wise advise.
Jeff was a comfort seeker who had to be pushed out of his comfort zone, but loved it once he got out of the zone. Because of this he never had any interest in international travel, which was Linda’s passion along with missions. SCA, the boys’ school, led senior trips to Israel every year. Jeff went on Benjamin’s senior trip to Israel and Egypt with Linda in 2008 and from then on was hooked on travel. They went again with Jacob’s class in 2011.
Around the same time, Jeff and Linda started a college-aged class at Messiah Baptist (now NewSpring Church). They took groups to the Passion Conferences in Atlanta and Fort Worth. The third year they decided to try a mission trip to put into practice what is learned at the Passion Conferences. After a lot of planning with friends, Brian and Elizabeth Richards, the two couples and ten college-aged young people set off to Skopje, Macedonia to help recreate playgrounds for two orphanages run by the government. The trip was life changing and created a love for missions. A year later, one of the college girls asked if he would go to Haiti. Jeff hated to be hot; he said he would never go to a hot place. He looked at Joybeth and “yes” just rolled off his tongue like melted butter. Soon after, a group of seven went to Haiti to take much needed vitamins to an orphanage and to build sitting and sleeping benches for the children, as well as to make repairs to a local church. They then fulfilled Linda’s longtime dream by taking a team of four to Rangon, Myanmar, to help their friends Zama and Pam Lindsted with their Christian school – STEP Academy. They were able to take much needed money and supplies. These trips became Jeff and Linda’s passion.
Jeff was so proud of his sons! He had so much fun playing with them and teaching them. Jonathan graduated from high school in 2005 and from LeTourneau University with a degree as a pilot. He worked a contract UAV pilot in Afghanistan for two and ½ years. He then began working for Garmin Aviation in Olathe, Kansas. He married Abby Coop and they have two beautiful children. Benjamin graduated high school in 2008. He studied web development at John Brown University. He works at Intouch in Overland Park, Kansas. Jacob graduated from high school in 2011. He went to Butler County Community College and graduated as an EMT. He works at Wesley Medical Center as an anesthesiology tech in the OR.
Jeff had worked very hard, sometimes 7 days a week, at his job in order to pay off the debts and to begin saving for retirement. He found great joy in being able to spend money on his children and grandchildren. He loved to travel with his wife, even if it was just a cabin an hour away from home. At Christmas, when the other guys were watching football, Jeff found his fun in taking his nieces shopping. He loved hanging out with his sons and just being their friend. He spent the last few years helping Jacob remodel his house and loved the time they spent together. He was a good son and brother. He has been helping his parents lately by being with his father during many of his own heart procedures. Jeff had a natural, easy way with all people.
Jeff’s hobbies were coin collecting, particularly silver; stock trading; talking about silver and stocks; reading about silver and stocks; traveling with his wife; playing with the grandchildren and talking with his boys. He and Linda had just gotten into gardening and watching the birds in their back yard feeders. Jeff was a man of great integrity and faithfulness. He loved his wife and worked hard to provide for her and his family. They had many dreams of future mission trips, home projects, and time with their family. They also had a dream of hosting foreign exchange girls for Sunrise Christian Academy.
Jeff had a great faith in God. His faith was quiet, yet never wavering. He never doubted that his future was in Heaven when he died. He and Linda had a daughter who went to Heaven before she was born. He always wanted a daughter. He is finally getting to meet that daughter, Gracen Jean. He is meeting his Savior, receiving his rewards and hearing “Well done, my good and faithful servant”.