In Memory of Hugo Gregory

by Erin Dyer Olson, M.A., CCC-SLP Board Recognized Fluency Specialist

On October 11, 2004, the community of people who stutter and speech/language pathologists lost an early and persistent advocate of Specialty Certification. Professor Emeritus, Dr.Hugo Gregory, of Northwestern University, died at John Hopkins Hospital as the result of a stroke and meningitis following surgery. Dr. Gregory taught hundreds of students about the diagnosis and treatment of stuttering disorders.

According to the Northwestern Media Relations, "Dr. Gregory authored or edited six books on stuttering. His most recent textbook, "Stuttering Therapy: Rationale and Procedures" (2003), focused on the relationships among theory, research findings, and clinical procedures in treating stuttering." Carolyn Gregory, his life-long partner and colleague, plans to develop a videotape that will serve as a supplement to Dr. Gregory's book.

Along with Carolyn and other leaders in the area of Fluency Disorders, Dr. Gregory led the training of Speech/Language Pathologists each summer during an annual 2-week professional workshop, "Stuttering Therapy: Workshop for Specialists". The Stuttering Foundation of America sponsored these training workshops at Northwestern University. More than 250 clinicians from the U.S. and Canada as well as 75 from other countries benefited from this highly specialized program that promoted an exchange of ideas and learning of techniques.

As a graduate of the Workshop held in 1993, I know that Dr. Gregory wanted to reach those Speech Language Pathologists who were serious about working specifically with clients who stutter. In fact, it took me 2 years to convince him that I was a good candidate for such training! I had to demonstrate through my past experience that I did work with children who stutter. Coming from a small village, it seemed that the Universe decided to have several children in our village go through periods of stuttering. Many of their families did have a genetic predisposition to stuttering and/or cluttering. However, after all my efforts, I was rewarded with one of the seats at the Workshop! This was one of the Peak Experiences of my life - living with and learning from specialists and professionals that were from the U.S. as well as other parts of the world. I was just beginning my own personal journey of meeting and working with children and adults who stutter!

I did get to know Hugo and Carolyn on a personal basis besides a professional one. They did retire from Evanston to Merimac, Wisconsin, which is 60 minutes from my home. The year that I attended the Workshop, my alter-ego known as Kelly the Clown, gave a performance that was a humorous look at therapists. The program included a sensitive portrayal of stuttering through a poem which I dedicated to Hugo. It was called "Poor Jane". Carolyn Gregory later requested that I perform at Hugo's Retirement Dinner which occurred following the Workshop. I felt so honored to be able to share a piece of myself with a man who had touched my life as a person and therapist.

As a member of the ASHA Legislative Council, I had observed Dr. Gregory address the Council regarding the need for Specialists in the area of Fluency Disorders. Those of us who were on Council at that time, reinforced the concept during our own Council Forum. Certainly there are many Specialists who were influential in the drive to establish this Specialty in Fluency Disorders; I am privileged to speak of one such individual.

If you never knew Hugo Gregory, then let me tell you that he was a gentle man. He maintained his southern drawl from his Arkansas roots. He often had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. He enjoyed visiting with past "workshoppers" at the annual ASHA Convention at the party sponsored by Jane Fraser and the Stuttering Foundation of America. It was then that he would give a speech and ask the participants to share what news they had, be it professional or personal. The members of the this group have lost a dear mentor, teacher and friend. But Hugo Gregory has left behind a strong legacy of dedicated professionals who are committed to working with children and adults who stutter.

added December 10, 2012