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Elmer Owens

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Elmer Owens Obituary
Elmer Owens

Professor Emeritus Elmer Owens age 93 passed away 4/23/2013. Born in West Pittston, PA on October 14, 1919. Elmer appreciated music playing both the piano and trumpet. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from Syracuse University in 1941. Elmer joined the Army Air Corps, becoming a fighter pilot ultimately flying missions out of Iwo Jima until the end of World War II. After the war he returned to graduate school attending Syracuse and later the University of Iowa. Interestingly, Elmer stuttered as a child but never while piloting his P51-D Mustang. He was able to resolve his stuttering and receive a Masters Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. His work began as a speech therapist serving in public schools in Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. He developed an interest in hearing problems and began a PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh, PA while also working for the Commonwealth of PA as a hearing specialist. He received his PhD in 1959, and started working as an assistant professor in the Audiology and Speech department at the University of California, San Francisco working with Dr. Francis A. Sooy. He worked on the team that pioneered the cochlear implant. At the same time, he was a faculty member in the Hearing and Speech Sciences PhD program at the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. In 1985, he retired as Professor Emeritus and since then has maintained a part-time practice as a consultant on stuttering.

He is survived by a sister, Alice, in New Orleans, and seven nieces and nephews. He was a Life Member of the American and California Speech and Hearing Associations, and a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Society of San Francisco. Recent volunteer activities have included the Society for Community Work, the Faithful Fools Street Ministry, and the Up on Top After-School Program. Publications include the co-editing of an early book on cochlear implants, a monograph, and some 40 research papers. A celebration of life will be held at the Unitarian-Universalist Society of San Francisco 1187 Franklin St on Sunday May 19th 2:30pm. Donations can be made to faithfulfools.org and upontop.org.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle from May 1 to May 5, 2013
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