Frank Robinson passed away December 1, 2014. He celebrated his 100th birthday in June of 2014. He received his BA from Western Michigan College of Education, MA from the University of Minnesota, and Ph.D from Ohio State. Dr. Robinson taught at Western Michigan, Ohio State, Miami (Ohio) University where he established the degree program in Speech and Hearing, and ended his academic career replacing Charles Van Riper as head of the department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Western Michigan. He was an ASHA Fellow, Honored member of the Michigan Speech and Hearing Association, and a Life Member of the American Psychological Association.
I remember the name "Frank B. Robinson" as the author of the book Stuttering, part of the Prentice Hall series of books on Communication Disorders, published in 1965. I still have that book (along with a few from earlier years and many with a more recent copyright date from additional professionals interested in stuttering) on my professional shelf!
Dr. Robinson's daughter sent me information of her father's passing and an obituary which are attached here.
Allen Montgomery, Ph.D ASHA Fellow and Professor at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina recounts his experience with Frank Robinson (including a residential summer program for teens and adult who stuttered) "after graduating from high school that has given me almost normal fluency since then. I was so inspired by that experience that I graduated from college with a major in math and a minor in speech pathology." It is included below in honor of Dr. Robinson.
My experience at the Miami University (in Ohio) stuttering camp was 59 years ago. I only know of the one year when I was there, 1956, but it may have been offered a few other times, but not a lot.
It ran for either six or eight weeks - probably eight, because I only had short time left in the summer to find a job before starting at Miami
The group was all adults, probably 10 or 12, including a married couple who were both stutterers - I was the youngest. Ages ranged from my 17 to approximately 50. We met all day (and worked on assignments in the evening. It was a very intense schedule, and my roommate, one year older than I worked on weekends as well as evenings. We were well matched in severity (quite severe) and age, intelligence, etc. A great matching by Frank. The morning was mostly group with some individual "breakouts" with students therapists. Afternoons were group meetings with more individual therapy. There were always assignments for homework, either specific talking experiences, like talking to strangers about our stuttering, or topics to be discussed the next day.
One weekend the group and some of the students went to someone's hunting camp in a forest area and sort of roughed it for Saturday and some of Sunday. Fun, but not a lot of real therapy went on.
The emphasis, as I recall, was about evenly split between working on controlling our secondary behaviors and facing our fears. I remember talking to a beginning Psychology class with a couple of the other stutterers, and towards the end of the camp we made a recording for the campus radio to broadcast. My roommate (Page Faulk) and I were probably the most successful of the group because we pushed each other so hard. One Saturday we hitch-hiked to Cincinnati and spent the day walking around a sub-division knocking on doors to conduct a "survey" about what people thought caused stuttering. Page and I would take turns and watch the one who was talking to see how he met some specific goal (controlling eye blinks, avoiding jaw jerks, etc.) I still have a stack of written assignments that I did with the student therapists, too. The assignment was always outside the clinic talking to either strangers, or to the student therapist, working on specific goals. After the contact we would write up a summary of the success or failure (or in-between) of the experience.
All in all, it was a powerful experience. At times in high school and during the camp I was very severe - I remember one time I had a block that the group timed at over two minutes. Frank just let me struggle through it. (I think he regretted putting me through it), but the "rule" was that you could never interrupt a stutterer during a block. All non-fluencies were called "blocks" even prolongations or using starters, etc.)
About week six (of eight) I became quite fluent and able to do controlled stuttering and actually had a lot of true fluency. I think this was partly because much of my trouble was based on fear and as I lost the fear I was able to control the secondaries quite well and it just sort of "happened" to me. I had a modest relapse my sophomore year and Frank assigned me a student therapist and told, "You are your own therapist - tell the student what you are going to work on and then do it." I recovered in a few weeks and have been quite fluent since. I still have trouble with a few words that begin with /d/, but it's just kind of funny, not serious.
After the summer camp I went to Miami U. and was a science and math major, but my last three semesters I took a speech path minor with courses from Frank and the other faculty, and he recommended that I go the Western Michigan and get a MS with Van Riper. Frank had some "influence" on Van Riper and I was able to become Van's teaching assistant, which was a wonderful experience. I have been a stuttering therapist (in both senses of the word!) ever since. Interestingly, at both Miami and Western I worked as a student therapist only with stutterers - this was a long time ago, and you could get by with that. I taught with my MS at small programs for two years and then went back for a Ph.D. at Purdue where I studied speech science with Arthur House, one of the early true speech scientists. All in all I have been very lucky in my life to have worked with Frank and Arthur and "Van" (I earned the right to call him that years later, not while I was at Western! And Frank was universally called "Doc R")
I love this field and my job (I coordinate the Doctoral program at the University of South Carolina) and marvel at how much our profession has changed in my lifetime. I plan to retire at 80 if my mind and body hold up, that's 3-1/2 years, so we'll see what happens.
Personal email, March 30 2015, added with permission
added December 12, 2014
updated April 1, 2015