by Shamez Kassam

People who stutter and speech-language pathologists from across Canada will be sad to learn of the death of Dr. Einer Boberg - one of the stuttering community's most distinguished researchers and advocates. Dr. Boberg passed away at his home in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, October 1, 1995 after a short battle with cancer.

He is survived by his wife Julia and sons Charles and Peter to whom we send our heartfelt condolences. It is fitting that the first issue of the official CAPS newsletter be dedicated to his memory.

Born in Drumheller, Alberta, Dr. Boberg grew up in the Danish farming community of Dalum. In his early days, Dr. Boberg was a severe stutterer. In fact, he was so afraid of teasing he would face in moving from a rural school to a Drumheller high school, that he quit school at age 15. However, eventually he managed to conquer his fears and continue with his education.

After trying various forms of therapy and with hard work and dedication, he was finally able to gain control over his stuttering in his early thirties.

As he overcame his disability, Dr. Boberg became interested in the treatment of speech disorders. An avid musician, he gave up a career as a violinist to study speech pathology. After obtaining his doctorate in speech-language pathology from the University of Minnesota in 1968, he taught at several universities.

In 1971, he returned to the University of Alberta, where he was Chairman of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department from 1971 to 1976. In the mid 1980s, he along with colleague Deborah Kully developed and published the Comprehensive Stuttering Program (CSP).

Perhaps his most significant accomplishment was in 1986, when he and Deborah Kully founded the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR) in Edmonton with assistance from the Alberta Elks Association and the Purple Cross Fund.

The founding of ISTAR, a non-profit society affiliated with the University of Alberta, enabled year-round treatment to be provided to children, teens, and adults. Prior to the founding of the Institute, treatment was only offered to adults during the summer months through the University of Alberta Hospitals.

ISTAR is now a world-renowned facility for the treatment of stuttering, and attracts clients from all over the world. The Institute is also very active in research, training of student clinicians, and public education on stuttering.

Some of his other noteworthy accomplishments included serving as the first President of the International Fluency Association (IFA) in 1991, organizing and directing three international Banff Conferences on Stuttering, and establishing a speech pathology program at the University of Kuwait.

For those of us who were fortunate enough to know him, the impact he had on our lives is difficult to describe in mere words. While overcoming his own disability, he helped hundreds of others do the same. No doubt, the impact of his work will be felt for generations to come. Though he is no longer with us physically, his spirit will live on in our hearts. In one of the last conversations I had with him, he outlined his vision for the continuing development of CAPS and mentioned the importance of "keeping the self-help groups going strong." Dr. Boberg had a dream of providing effective and accessible treatment for all people who stutter. In that endeavor, he has left behind a great legacy. Truly, we will strive to turn his vision into reality and keep his dream alive.

Submitted by Shamez Kassam for the CAPS newsletter, May, 1996, and reprinted here with permission of the author.