Obituaries and Personal Information

Hugo Harris Gregory Jr., 76, retired speech professor: Remembered for his caring and expertise in speech pathology

By Deepa Seetharaman - November 09, 2004

(first published in The Daily Northwestern -

Hugo Harris Gregory Jr., a professor emeritus of speech and language pathology at Northwestern, died Oct. 11 of a stroke and meningitis following surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was 76.

With his international recognition in the discipline of speech and language pathology, Gregory was widely regarded as an expert on the treatment of stuttering and fluency disorders. Gregory was among the first pathologists to publicly advocate and practice the merging of the two main approaches to speech therapy. He crystallized his ideas in his 1979 book "Controversies About Stuttering Therapy," one of six books he wrote and edited. In 1985 he initiated a series of professional summer workshops on stuttering at NU that ran until 2001 in partnership with the Stuttering Foundation of America.

"He was a role model," said Associate Prof. Jennifer Watson, who works in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. "He knew how to communicate ideas at times of controversy ... He helped me tremendously and was supportive, gentle and sweet." Gregory directed Watson's doctoral thesis. "Looking back, it's struck me how much I do that follows his model," she said.

Gregory's interest in the field grew from his own stuttering problems and the his subsequent therapy at age 14. "He never viewed his stuttering as a problem," said Prof. Dean Garstecki, chairman of the Communication Science and Disorders department at NU. "It was more of a frustration or a nuisance, but it never stopped him from speaking up."

In the late 1940s, Gregory moved from his hometown of Portland, Ark., to Evanston. He eventually received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in speech and language pathology from NU. In 1962 Gregory became a member of his alma mater's faculty. Gregory remained on the NU staff until his retirement in 1993 to Wisconsin.

In 1952 while pursuing his master's, he met his future wife, fellow speech pathologist Carolyn Booth, when he was her supervisor in a student teaching class. "He said, 'That Booth woman is going to be tough,'" Carolyn Booth Gregory, 79, remembered. "But he asked me to the dance and a beautiful blue dress made all the difference." The couple married in December of 1952. Gregory's interest in international affairs in his field sent him to speech workshops around the world, which he attended with his wife.

During his tenure, his specialization in stuttering expanded NU's course offerings. He mentored hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students and directed 15 doctoral dissertations. Gregory was especially noted for his congeniality, warmth, humor and interest in the lives of faculty and his students. "If he were alive today, he would be checking in on how things were going," Garstecki said. "He was one of Northwestern's biggest fans."

Gregory is survived by his wife; a daughter, Kathleen; a son, Warren; and two grandchildren, Carolyn and Karen.

Memorial services [were] held in the Alice Millar Chapel at 1 p.m. on Saturday.