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Catlin was born in New York in 1924 and first came to the Charlottesville area as a UVa undergraduate. He eventually earned a Ph.D. in physics. He married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Reed Catlin. At one point he was a part-owner of Piedmont Tractor before deciding to concentrate on academia. He was associate dean of the School of Engineering before becoming executive vice president. When he assumed that position, he stepped down from the Albemarle County Planning Commission. After stepping down as executive vice president in 1982, he returned to the school to teach engineering courses. 
- Web. Former UVa executive Catlin dies, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, retrieved January 18, 2011.