Archive for the 'Obituaries' Category

S. A. Kirk, 1904-1996

Sam Kirk

Twenty years ago I posted a message to a mailing list named “SpedTalk” that Samuel A. Kirk had died. Along with William Cruickshank (and a few others), Professor Kirk was instrumental in helping a group of parents establish what we now call “the field” of learning disabilities. I preserved a copy of the content of that message on a Web site I was managing at the time, so you can read it in its entirety if you wish.

Samuel Alexander Kirk, one of the most influential figures in the history of special education, died 21 July 1996. He is survived by his wife and long-time collaborator Winifred D. Kirk, his son Jerry, daughter Lorraine, and sister Hannah.

Kirk, who was born in Rugby, ND, in 1904, obtained bachelors and masters degrees in psychology from the University of Chicago and a PhD in physiological and clinical pscyhology from the University of Michigan. He began his career in 1929 with children with disabilities through employment at the Oaks School in Chicago, working with boys who were delinquent and had mental retardation. During this time, he recalled, “I arranged to tutor [a] boy at nine o’clock in the evening, after the boys were supposed to be asleep. This boy, who was eager to learn, sneaked quietly out of bed at the appointed time each night and met me in a small space between the two dromintory rooms and, actually, in the doorway of the boy’s toilet….I often state that my first experience in tutoring a case of reading disability was not in a school, was not in a clinic, was not in an experimental laboratory, but in a boy’s lavatory” (1976, pp. 242-243).

Link for the copy of that message.

Janet W. Lerner

Janet Weiss Lerner, author of one of the first and most enduring texts about Learning Disabilities, died 25 May 2015. She was 88 years old. She began her career studying under Sam Kirk, Alfred Strauss, and Laura Lehtinen; having learned from the pioneers in the history of special education, Professor Lerner went on to exert giant influence, herself, especially in the area of Learning Disabilities.

Professor Lerner completed a Bachelors of Arts at Milwaukee State Teachers College (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) when Professor Kirk chaired the special education department there; later she took a Masters of Education from National Louis University and a Doctor of Philosophy from New York University. She taught at multiple grade levels in both general and special education in New York and Chicago, often focusing on helping children with reading problems.
Continue reading ‘Janet W. Lerner’

Ingvar Lundberg: 1934-2012

Ingvar Lundberg—an internationally renowned psychologist who studied the psychology and pedagogy of reading and writing, learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dyscalculia, and problems in language development—died 23 April 2012. He was 77 years old.

Born in Stockholm 30 September 1934, Professor Lundberg began his academic career after teaching elementary school in the 1950s. He completed undergraduate and graduate training in the 1960s at the University of Stockholm and then began his academic career in the department of psychology at Umeå University in 1967. In 1995, he moved to Göteborg University and held dual appointments at Åbo Akademi, Finland, and Bergen University, Norway, during his tenure there. At the time of his death, he was Professor Emeritus in Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Although Professor Lundberg’s research ranged across many areas of psychology, we remember him here especially for his work on learning disabilities. He was a long-time member of the International Academy of Research in Learning Disability and the Society for Scientific Studies in Reading. As a perusal of the accompanying selected list of publications will show, he contributed a lot to our understanding of reading processes and problems.

Jacobson, C., & Lundberg, I. (2000). Early prediction of individual growth in reading. Reading and Writing, 13, 273-296.

Lundberg, I. & Nilsson, L.G. (1986). What church examination records can tell us about the inheritance of reading disability. Annals of Dyslexia, 36, 217-236.

Lundberg, I. (1988). Preschool prevention of reading failures: Does training in phonological awareness work? In R. L. Masland & M. W. Masland (Eds.), Preschool prevention of reading failure (pp. 163-176). Parkton, MD: York Press.

Lundberg, I., & Höien, T. (1989). Phonemic deficits: A core symptom of developmental dyslexia? The Irish Journal of Psychology, 10, 579-592.

Lundberg, I., & Höien, T. (1990). Patterns of information processing skills and word recognition strategies in developmental dyslexia. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 34, 231-240.

Lundberg, I. (1994). Reading difficulties can be predicted and prevented: A Scandinavian perspective on phonological awareness and reading. In C. Hulme & M. Snowling (Eds.), Reading development and dyslexia (pp. 180-199). Philadelphia: Whurr.

Lundberg, I. (1998). Why is learning to read a hard task for some children? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 39, 155-157.

Lundberg, I. (2006). Working memory and reading disability. In L.-G. Nilsson & N. Ohta (Eds.), Memory and society: Psychological perspectives (pp. 198-214). New York: Psychology Press.

Olofsson, Å. & Lundberg, I. (1983). Can phonemic awareness skills be trained in kindergarten? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 24, 34-44.

Mel Levine died

Updated
According to news reports, Dr. Melvin Levine, the pediatrician famed for promoting the idea of “learning differences” rather than Learning Disabilities and dogged by accusations of inappropriate examinations of young patients, found dead at age 71 on 18 February 2011. Dr. Levine’s death in Rougemont (NC, US) was reported one day after the filing of a law suit by former patients alleging medical malpractice.

Read David Abel’s report of Dr. Levine’s death in the Boston Globe, “Doctor in sex abuse suit dies: Worked 19 years at Children’s Hospital,” and the version carried by the Associated Press that appeared in the New York Times Boston Pediatrician Facing Sex Abuse Suit Dies. For more on the law suit, see Mark Pratt’s 17 February 2011 story, “Former Boston doctor accused in lawsuit of inappropriately touching boys during exams,” as carried in the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Levine faced previous charges of sexual abuse while he was affiliated with Children’s Hospital in Boston (MA, US); those were dismissed. Another set of charges were settled. In response to the new round of charges, brought by 40 male former pediatric patients who are represented by attorney Carmen Durso, Dr. Levine’s attorney Edward Mahoney said that Dr. Levine has made valuable contributions to the field and he “denies in the strongest terms possible the allegations.” In an interview with television reporter Jim Braude, Mr. Durso discussed the future of the most recent law suit, given the context of Dr. Levine’s death.

Obituary from the Raliegh (NC, US) News & Observer (see, also, SpedPro.

Ken Kavale died

For those who haven’t heard, Ken Kavale died this past weekend. I have an obituary over on SpedPro. He was a strong defender of the construct of Learning Disabilities and a tireless crusader for evidence-based interventions. Students of Learning Disabilities will be studying his academic works for many years to come.

Helmer Myklebust

Helmer R. Myklebust, one of the pioneering figures in Learning Disabilities, died 26 February 2008. Predicated on his work on differentiating among speech disorders, Professor Myklebust emphasized the language-based aspects of Learning Disabilities. He theorized that there were different types of Learning Disabilities and that these types required different treatments. Throughout his career, Professor Myklebust promoted empirical study of language disorders and Learning Disabilities.

Professor Myklebust came to the study of Learning Disabilities after extensive work in hearing and speech disorders. In the 1940s he studied deafness and in the 1950s he focused on aphasia. In 1967, with his collaborator Doris Johnson, Professor Myklebust published one of the first books focused on Learning Disabilities: Learning Disabilities: Educational Principles and Remedial Approaches and later he edited a series of volumes presenting research and theory about Learning Disabilities under the title Progress in Learning Disabilities.

Professor Myklebust sought to differentiate among different variants of Learning Disabilities. He thought that Learning Disabilities could be separated into disorders of auditory language (generalized auditory disorders, auditory receptive disorders, and auditory expressive disorders), disorders of written language (auditory dyslexia, visual dyslexia, and written expression), disorders of arithmetic, and disorders of a non-verbal type. Professor Myklebust proposed that the problems children experienced were a consequence of difficulties in “interneurosensory learning.”

Professor Myklebust, who was born 2 august 1910 in Lester (IA, US), was among a small group of educators and psychologists who generally credited with founding the study of Learning Disabilities. Along with Samuel Kirk, William Cruickshank, Marianne Frostig, Newell Kephart, and perhaps a few others, Myklebust pursued the recognition of the difficulties experienced by these children and their families.

He received a bachelors degree from Augustana College, a masters degrees from Gallaudet College and Temple University, and a doctoral degree from Rutgers University. He taught and conducted research at several institutions, including Northern Illinois University; Northwestern University, where he spent most of his career and where he founded the Children’s Hearing and Aphasia Clinic; University of Illinois, Chicago. Memorial services were held 8 March.

Johnson, D. J., & Myklebust, H. (1967). Learning disabilities: Educational principles and remedial approaches. NY: Grune & Stratton.

Myklebust, H. (1954). Auditory disorders in children: A manual for differential diagnosis. NY: Grune & Stratton.

Myklebust, H. (Ed.). (1968-1975). Progress in learning disabilities (vols. 1-5). NY: Grune & Stratton.

I am late in publishing this note; thanks to Hal McGrady for alerting me to the death of this giant figure in the history or LD.

J. Lee Wiederholt

Lee at a desk
J. Lee Wiederholt

J. Lee Wiederholt, a widely published author in special education and assessment, died suddenly 19 August 2007. Professor Wiederholt, who was senior vice president of the publishing firm Pro-Ed, trustee for the Donald D. Hammill Foundation, and the trustee of the Hammill Institute on Disabilities, was widely known for diverse contributions to special education and, especially, Learning Disabilities.

After obtaining a doctorate from Temple University in 1971, Professor Wiederholt served as a member of the faculty at the University of Arizona and University of Texas. For much of his career, he was also affiliated with Pro-Ed, a publishing firm that specialized in tests, books, curricular materials, and journals in the area of special education and related disciplines. For ten years he served as editor of the Journal of Learning Disabilities.

As an academic, Professor Wiederholt provided valuable contributions to our understanding of Learning Disabilities. In 1974 he authored an important history of Learning Disabilities that is still routinely cited in texts and other histories of the discipline. For ten years he served as editor of the Journal of Learning Disabilities. As an author and publisher, he developed widely employed assessments such as the TOAL-4: Test of Adolescent and Adult Language and the GORT-4: Gray Oral Reading Tests, among many others.

Thanks to the Donald D. Hammill Foundation for providing the accompanying photograph.