Richard "Dick" Curlee passed away January 29, 2008 in Tucson, Arizona. He was an emeritas professor at the University of Arizona, joining the university; Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences in 1975. He was a professor, teaching graduate courses on stuttering, counseling and research design, as well as an introductory undergraduate course, and was head of the department. Curlee was a graduate of Wake Forest College and earned his master's and Ph.D. in communicative disorders from the University of Southern California. He was an author or co-author of numerous articles and chapters, editor of on text and co-editor of another on stuttering, its assessment and treatment, an editor of Seminars in Speech and Language , an associate editor of the Journal of Fluency Disorders, and a frequent reviewer for the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and the Journal of Speech and Hearing Research. He was a certified speech-language pathologist, a Fellow of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, and an active member of the Tucson National Stuttering Association chapter. In 1999 he wrote an interesting paper for the International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference, "Early Intervention with Childhood Stuttering Revisited" (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad2/papers/curlee.html). In 2002, Dick Curlee was awarded the Malcolm Fraser Award from the Stuttering Foundation for "his life's work as clinician, researcher, educator, editor, author, advocate, and mentor."
In Memoriam: Richard Curlee from The ASHA LEADER, submitted by JoAnn Yates, professor emeritus of California State University, Long Beach. Yates wrote this celebratory obituary for the March 2, 2008 ceremony of the Tucson Women's Club.
The following tributes from several of his colleague and friends exemplify the impact he had on everyone. Additional tributes may be sent to Judy Kuster
Kenneth St. Louis
Dick was a true mentor to me, although I'm not sure he knew it. I worked under him for a number of year during his editorship of the Journal of Fluency Disorders. Over and over, I watched as he exercised his brilliant editor's "pen" to help the author, support the associate editor, and render the work better than any of the rest of us could have made it. He also used that "pen" more than once on my own work. Even when the ultimate decision was rejection, I felt understood, appreciated, and cared about. In the end, I learned that you can care about scholarship and people, without compromising one for the other.
We worked together most closely in setting up the first Specialty Board on Fluency Disorders and bringing in the first cadre of specialists. Again, Dick's even-handed and good humored approach to the sometimes difficult tasks always inspired me to do a better job.
Dick had polio as a child, and so for most of his life, he used a leg brace and crutches to walk. Let me share one story about regarding Dick's physical handicap that speaks to his character. In 1990, I did a sabbatical leave in Sydney, Australia with Gavin Andrews and Meg Neilson. Early in my stay at the institute there (CRUfAD--Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety Disorders), Gavin told me that Dick had also stayed there to learn the smooth speech program as I was doing. Gavin pointed out that, upon arriving at the building, Dick asked where the "lift" (elevator) was. There was none. After a brief uncomfortable silence, Dick simply slowly started up the several flights of stairs to the top floor (I believe) where the offices were located. The bathroom was not on that floor, but was down one or two stories. Gavin said that, for several weeks, Dick negotiated all those stairs, up in the morning and down in the afternoon, without one word of protest or comment. Gavin was pretty sure Dick did not use the bathroom during the day anytime while he worked there. He accepted and dealt with his disability with quiet dignity.
I did not visit Dick during the past year, but in my experience, he was the sort of person who helped others, even when it would have made more sense for others to help him. He deserves the finest compliment I can pay him, "Dick Curlee was truly a good man."
Indeed, he will be sorely missed.
I'll never forget early in my professional career at a conference where when a heated discussion was taking place regarding therapy protocols and he shared only these words - "One Shoe Does Not Fit All...." His impact was awesome.
He was a "Great One" to me.
Nan Bernstein Ratner
How much we all admired his brilliance, his warmth, and especially his courage as he dealt with his post-polio challenges and kept on coming to meetings and stayed so active. How much we will miss him.
E. Charles Healey
Janis C. Ingham
Luc De Nil
Roger and I had the pleasure of seeing Dick and Jennie last July, when he was first hospitalized. And, as everyone can imagine, he wasn't happy about being confined; but his intellect was as sharp as ever and we talked about stuttering and the discipline and the book he'd just finished with Ed Conture and politics and all of our mutual friends, and I don't know what all else. There was shared enjoyment in the conversation, and we're so glad that we were able to visit with him then.
So many terms come to mind when I think of Dick --
scholarship, objectivity, integrity, humility, wisdom, graciousness,
fortitude... Right now I find it difficult to imagine the discipline without him. He was a huge contributor in so many ways and someone I admired enormously. How fortunate we were to have known him and learned from him.
I am so very sorry to hear about Dick's passing. I knew him well enough to fully agree with the others who have already mentioned what a good person he was. I believe that I was just a little intimidated by him the first few times I met him. He often had what seemed to me to be a serious look about him. I suppose his deep, resonant and wonderful voice may have added to that perception. As I got to know him better during a variety of professional and social situations I began to see all the other qualities that have been mentioned including his sense of humor and his even-handed approach to others and to his profession. My experiences with Dick on the JFD board were all positive. He had a reasoned and even-handed approach to authors and their manuscripts. Being the ultimate gate keeper for a journal is a difficult job that requires a scholarly but sensitive approach and Dick did it wonderfully. I have had the good fortune to work with several wonderful and gifted editors over the years and I have to say that Dick was the best. With all the many editorial comments and suggestions he would place on nearly every one of my pages, I always felt that he was being supportive and extremely insightful. His experience and skill always improved the quality of the manuscript. Every now and again our field suffers a major loss and this is certainly one of them.
I'd like to add my thoughts to this loss of a great individual in our field. Although I have met Dick Curlee a few times, I can't say I knew him personally all that well. My closest interactions with him were when I was working on our chapter for his latest book. Both he and Ed Conture were wonderful in providing lots of good and detailed feedback on the chapter and Dick really helped shape the chapter to what it finally came to be. The quality of his contributions to our field, I think, are best reflected in the outstanding quality of the chapters in this book. It, similar to each of the previous editions of this text, is one of the few true published gems in our field - so much so that I decided immediately to adopt it as my required textbook for my stuttering course. He will be missed by all, although not as much as by his family and friends. What a wonderful and generous individual he was.
added February 4, 2008
last modified November 23, 2011
Luc De Nil