Hugo Gregory thought of being a preacher or a politician, but he stuttered so badly that he decided on dentistry, thinking he wouldn't have to talk much.
When he realized he didn't like teeth, he switched to the then-new field of speech pathology. He licked his own problem and went on to be a world leader in the study and treatment of stuttering.
Mr. Gregory, professor emeritus of speech-language pathology at Northwestern University, died Oct. 11 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore of a stroke and meningitis after surgery. He was 76.
He was born in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Hugo and Lola Gregory, and grew up in the southeast Arkansas town of Portland, population 500. He was devoted to his hometown, friends, and relatives from Arkansas all his life.
For three summers, starting when he was 14, his parents sent him alone by train to Bristol, R.I., to attend a camp for stutterers, where he began to improve his speech. He had completed two years of pre-dentistry at the University of Arkansas when his uncle, U.S. Sen. Joe T. Robinson, recommended that his nephew get into a field relating to people.
Mr. Gregory transferred to Northwestern, where he earned his bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. in speech and language pathology. He met his wife, the former Carolyn Booth, when he was supervising her practice teaching in the speech pathology program.
They became lifelong partners in clinical work, research and writing about the problem of stuttering.
Mr. Gregory was professor of speech and language pathology at Northwestern from 1962 to 1993 and at his retirement was named professor emeritus. He wrote or edited six books on stuttering. The 1979 book he edited, Controversies About Stuttering Therapy, helped resolve heated conflicts regarding approaches to therapy.
A big advance in his career started when he was invited by Malcolm Fraser to take part in the annual winter holiday conference sponsored by Fraser's Stuttering Foundation of America. After Fraser died, Mr. Gregory arranged to have yearly, two-week workshops for specialists in stuttering held at Northwestern. The workshop was limited to 20 participants a year, and over time he and his staff enhanced the training of more than 300 specialists from around the world.
"I can think of no one who has done more to promote and help carry out specialization in the field of stuttering than Hugo Gregory," said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation of America, sponsor of the workshop.
Mr. Gregory mentored hundreds of students at Northwestern, many of whom now are leaders in the profession of communicative disorders as clinicians, researchers and educators.
He was head of the Speech and Language Pathology Program for seven years and served on professional committees of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics. He was interested in international affairs in his field, and he with his wife gave short courses on four continents.
Mr. Gregory was the first recipient of the Malcolm Fraser Award, and in 2000 was honored by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.
He had a relaxed style of speaking, an easy smile, and always had a twinkle in his eye.
Mr. Gregory and his wife retired in 1997 to Merrimac, Wis. To celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2002, they took their children and grandchildren to Hawaii.
Memorial services [were - ed. JAK] held at 1 p.m. Nov. 13, at Northwestern's Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, and at 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at the First Methodist Church, Broadway and 4th Avenue, in Baraboo, Wis. Private burial services will be at a later date at the First Methodist Church of Portland, Ark.