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Dean Williams

From: Ellen-Marie Silverman
Date: 21 Oct 2006
Time: 10:17:33 -0500
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Devon, Your father was both my thesis and dissertation advisor. I began work on the master's in September of 1965 and completed all requirements for the Ph.D. in August of 1969. Those, roughly, were the years he received his first huge Office of Education Grant to study children who had stuttering problems. I can still remember sitting with him in his office in the Speech Clinic in the old, white house across the Iowa River hearing hin say as he evaluated what I wrote, "Say what you mean." I heard that, by then, refrain again and again as I was writing my dissertation and meeting with him once again in his office in the then brand new Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center a year or so later. And, you know what? I frequently hear those words or variations of them when I edit what I write (even now!). During our office visits to discuss my writing, he also told me several other things about my writing, "You write like a sledge hammer!" and "The numbers (data) don't tell you what they mean; you have to say what they mean." These, too, have helped me develop as a writer and a person. Your father was capable of great kindness which, sometimes, masquereded as harshness. But he was effective at what he did: Molding young students into contributing adults. Your mother seemed to be a fine balance for him. I'm glad I was able to know them both. >>> You mentioned you had post-polio syndrome. Sorry. I do, too. Unsettling how you think you conquered a threat and then it resurfaces as a challenge later on, a reminder for me of the unpredictable nature of life. And, perhaps, for you of the kindness and intelligence of your father. >>> Warmly, Ellen-Marie Silverman

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