Published on April 11th, 2016


In Memorium: Margaret Love Stoicheff, PhD

By Carla Johnson

The profession of speech-language pathology lost an early and valued contributor with the passing of Dr. Margaret Love Stoicheff on February 9, 2016, at the age of 82. Margaret will be remembered as a compassionate and skilled clinician, a hard-working and visionary advocate for our profession and an exemplary teacher and role model for both colleagues and students.

Margaret earned her PhD in 1959 from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa), one of the earliest and most highly regarded academic programs in North America. She then returned to Ontario where she became one of the first practicing professionals in her home province. During her early years in the profession, she was instrumental in developing and leading the department of speech pathology at the Toronto General Hospital. In 1979, she became a full-time faculty member in the department of speech pathology at the University of Toronto (U of T), where she served until her retirement. At U of T, Margaret taught a variety of academic courses, supervised students in clinical practice and fulfilled key administrative roles, including Coordinator of Graduate Studies and Department Chair (1983-89).

Margaret was also one of the founding members of the Ontario Speech and Hearing Association (now known as the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists). She received the Honours of the Association in 1985 in recognition of this contribution and her other work to further the development of the professions. Margaret also helped to lay the foundations for the regulation of the professions in Ontario through her work as a council member from 1992-97, in the earliest years of the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario.

I first met Margaret in 1990 while interviewing for a faculty position at U of T. She impressed me immediately with the enthusiasm and curiosity she showed in that first meeting, particularly regarding my research and its implications. Upon joining the faculty, I soon learned that these traits were hallmarks of all of Margaret’s professional interactions. Margaret was an invaluable resource for me and the other new faculty members who joined the department in the early 1990s. She patiently and thoughtfully shared her expertise and insights, mentoring us through our early years of academic life.

Margaret showed similar compassion and expertise in her interactions with clients and students. One of her special areas of interest was in teaching transgender individuals to use the pitch and prosody patterns appropriate to the speech of the gender to which they were transitioning. Our students were particularly intrigued by this work and eagerly volunteered for clinical experience under Margaret’s capable tutelage. Those who received these plum assignments were delighted; those who missed out were disappointed but often made time to observe the sessions and learn what they could from Margaret vicariously.

Students also benefited from Margaret’s work on behalf of the Speech-Language Pathology Association at U of T. In recognition of her contributions, the Alumni Association now administers two awards named in her honour. One is a bursary that supports a U of T student in financial need and the other recognizes a student that classmates feel has contributed most to class spirit.

Family was also an important focus of Margaret’s life. She enjoyed spending time with her siblings (four sisters and one brother) and their children and grandchildren, often sharing her vacations with them. Her dogs also provided treasured hours of companionship and entertainment. She took pleasure in singing, painting and outdoor activities.

I’ll close this tribute with one of my favorite memories involving Margaret. The faculty members at U of T were a close-knit group that held regular potluck dinners. One of the most memorable was hosted by Margaret in her home. As we arrived, we were introduced to her two dogs, Jasper and Quincy, and were ushered into the house where we displayed our potluck dishes on elegant tables Margaret had prepared. We were all enjoying pre-dinner drinks and conversation when we heard a loud bang and saw Jasper racing past us with a full loaf of Italian bread in his mouth! Poor Jasper was not allowed to attend the rest of the party. The rest of us enjoyed a wonderful evening, which included a spirited sing-along and Margaret’s fabulous baked Alaska dessert.

Margaret Stoicheff will be remembered fondly by all who knew her personally. She leaves a remarkable professional legacy that will persist in the lives of the numerous clients, students and colleagues she touched both directly and indirectly.

Carla J. Johnson, PhD, was a faculty member in the department of speech-language pathology at the University of Toronto from 1991-2010. Her clinical, academic and research interests were in the area of childhood speech and language.

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