Gerald Siegel

Opening my email on November 19, 2014, I found this announcement:

Dr. Gerald Siegel from the U of MN has passed away. . . I respected this man's knowledge about stuttering and his terrific sense of humor. He had some really funny stuff he would write and share about the professional field. He was an effective teacher. Mike "Retz" Retzinger

On November 10, 2014 at 11:10 pm the following email arrived:

Dear Judith,

I've just self-published a book that I think will interest you, Academic and Personal Reflections on a Career in Communication Disorders. It's a memoir about life on the blackboard side of the desk, based on 40 years in the business, 36 at the U of Minnesota. It's available from Amazon or, if you like, I'd be glad to send you a signed copy. Cost would be $17.50 with shipping.

All best wishes,


A week later, and before I had a chance to order a copy, Dr. Siegel died. I won't get a signed copy, but it (along with several other books by Gerald Siegel) is available on Amazon and I ordered one.

Gerald (Jerry) M. Siegel died unexpectedly on November 17, 2014 at the age of 82. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He received BA and MA degrees from Brooklyn College and a PhD from the University of Iowa in Speech Pathology and Audiology in 1957.

The time spent at Brooklyn College where Oliver Bloodstein was a professor, was a very significant part of Jerry Siegel's life, shared by Siegel at a memorial service for his mentor on November 12, 2010. The entire memorial speech is linked to the Bloodstein Memorial Scholarship page. Siegel's touching, interesting, and humorous speech starts at approximately 13:00.

In 1999 Dr. Siegel was invited to address the CAPCSD at their banquet. The title of his speech was Reflections on a Career in Communication Disorders. Years ago he gave me permission to add the text of his speech to the Stuttering Home Page. It provides interesting and humorous insight into his professional life and discloses that his father, a postal worker in New York, stuttered occasionally. He shares how he stumbled into the field of speech pathology and his relationship with an important mentor Oliver Bloodstein, Dean Williams, Wendell Johnson, Charles Bluemel, Fred Darley, Einer Boberg, Richard Martin, and many others. Siegel knew them all, and many others. He attended a 1966 conference with 40 colleagues - International Seminar in Stuttering and Behavior Therapy - at Carmel-By-The-Sea, California where the program reflects that he presented a research paper "Experimental Modification of Speech Disfluency". See a picture of all participants here

Siegel's academic career began in Fargo, North Dakota where he was the only faculty member in an accredited program in communication disorders at North Dakota Agricultural College. His next position was at a state institution in Parsons, Kansas, where he worked for two years before beginning his long academic career at the University of Minnesota in 1961. His obituary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 20, 2014, shared that Siegel "was regarded as a leader in his field, receiving awards for teaching, scientific writing, and research. He was awarded Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2002, and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Minnesota-Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2003 and received a distinguished teaching award at the University of Minnesota, where he began teaching in 1961. He had a wide variety of interests including: playing guitar, singing, folk music, playing handball, bicycle riding, and cooking. Most recently he authored three books, which included memoirs, poems, short stories about his life, and reflections on his academic career. Jerry and his wife Eileen founded the Keren Or Creative Arts Forum in honor of their daughter Karen Siegel-Jacobs, who preceded them in death. The forum recognizes the fine artistic work of Jewish teens. Dr. Siegel is survived by his wife of 61 years, Eileen, his son Joshua, son David (Michelle), son-in-law Matthew Jacobs and four grandchildren; Jacob (Ruhi-Sofia) and Elana Siegel, and Allison and Zachary Jacobs and dear friends, colleagues and students."

Another article obituary in Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 25, 2014, by Mike Hughlett added further insight into the man, Jerry Siegel.

"In the 1960s, Siegel made his mark researching stuttering or "fluency disorder," co-authoring a textbook on the subject. In the 1970s, Siegel turned to "language development" in children, said Charles Speaks, an emeritus professor and friend of Siegel's who once chaired what's now called the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the U.

Essentially, Siegel studied how kids learn to give meaning to thoughts through language. That included examining disorders in children that delay speech development or prevent it altogether, Speaks said.

For his research over the years, Siegel was awarded Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2002 and a lifetime achievement award from a similar Minnesota organization a year later.

"He was very well known in the field, there's no question about it," said Karlind Moller, a friend of Siegel's and emeritus professor of the U's Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences Department. "The world of speech, language and hearing sciences has lost a huge intellect."

Siegel was a good teacher, too, not simply a lecturer, his colleagues said. He received a distinguished teaching award from the U in 2003.

David Siegel described his father as "kind of a Renaissance guy."

He sang and played guitar in front of children's and community groups. He wrote poetry and memoirs. And for many years, he was an avid handball player, a regular on the courts beneath the U's old Memorial Stadium.

Siegel's interest in music prompted him to contact me a few years ago, saying "I recently watched a film from Netflix called "Still Bill." It is a documentary about a gifted and appealing musician named Bill Withers. There's lots of good music and homespun wisdom. Most compelling, however, is the fact that he was apparently a severe stutterer in his youth. In one very emotional scene he is filmed speaking with a group of stutterers in some formal setting. His insights into the way stuttering affected his life are very moving." I added his suggestion to Movies that portray people who stutter

Additional insight into Dr. Siegel's career was first featured in a presentation at the Minnesota Speech-Language Hearing Association October 2003 convention, and later included as Siegel, G. M. (2004, September 07). The Language of Success. The ASHA Leader. (originally published at " and included here with permission of ASHA)

Jerry and Eileen Siegel's generosity established the "Siegel Student Initiative Fund" "for a variety of student-initiated purposes" such as supporting students to attend conferences.

Siegel's professional contributions are extensive. A bibliography of his articles is included in his last book Academic and Personal Reflections on a Career in Communication Disorders.


If anyone would like to add more, contact Judy Kuster

Karlind Moller - I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing Jerry as a superb teacher, cherished and supportive colleague, and endearing and caring friend over the last 55 years.

Jerry was passionate about his profession, contributed enormously to the professional literature, and was so compassionate with undergraduate and graduate students.He gave them "tools" for life and successful careers.

Jerry was a keen observer and keeper of history---his own family (growing up in Brooklyn), his career and place at the University of Minnesota, and handball adventures with colleagues. I enjoyed competing with him in the courts underneath the old Memorial Football Stadium in the 60's and 70's. He was an excellent and creative writer about his memories, demonstrated most recently in published books. But he had so much more to share!

Jerry was a good listener, reasoned thinker, with a quick wit. His smile and laughter were absolutely contagious!

The world of speech, language, and hearing sciences has lost a huge intellect, influence, and friend.

Karlind T. Moller, Ph.D
Professor Emeritus
School of Dentistry and Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences
University of Minnesota
Student of Jerry's (1960-70); colleague and friend (1970-2014)

Jerry Siegel was my graduate program advisor at the University of Minnesota in the 1970's. I remember his good nature, his attention to detail, and evenings at his house where his graduate students could report on their research, brainstorm with each other, and discuss research articles that had piqued their interest.

Brian Humphrey, Ph.D
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Remembering Gerald Siegel (Ep. 491) ( - from Peter Reitzes' Stuttering Talk - an interesting 1 hour 20 minute podcast with Walter Manning and Robert Quesal, January 21, 2015

added December 14, 2014
updated March 15, 2016