Bernard Benjamin Spiegel, 81, (born 12/15/1941), a retired member of the University of Toledo faculty and a long-time resident of Toledo’s Old West End neighborhood, died at home on Thursday, February 8th of pancreatic cancer, which he chose to face with his wife, children, and many friends without extensive treatment. His spirit and love of life was apparent until the end.
Bernie spent more than 40 years practicing and teaching speech and language science, but shortly before his death said, “The most important thing in my life was having a wonderful, loving family.” He helped raise three children and was married to Susan Cass Spiegel, for 42 years.
He was born in Cleveland and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in 1960. He graduated from Ohio University in 1964 with a Bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and received a Master’s degree in speech and hearing science in 1965 from Syracuse University. He received his PhD in speech and hearing science in 1975 from Ohio State University. He began his teaching career at the Monroe Michigan Independent School District before taking a faculty post at Illinois State University. In 1984 he became a professor of speech and language at the University of Toledo, with a specialization in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). For many years he supervised students at the Speech and Hearing Clinic at UT. He retired in 2012 after being a faculty advisor for 15 master’s theses.
“The best part of the job for me was working with students, advising students, and teaching,” Dr. Spiegel said. “I’m particularly proud of starting a program in augmentative and alternative communication for persons who are incapable of speaking.”
He was married in 1965 to Nancy Lahmers. They had a son, Aaron Michael Spiegel. Bernie met Susan Cass Melby in 1978 in a singles group at Illinois State University. “One time we were at a group function, and Susan said she needed a person to help her at an elementary school the next morning, because she was putting on a puppet show and she only had two hands…and there were three roles. She needed someone to be the dog in the puppet show, and I raised my hand.” Lunch followed the puppet show, and they were married in 1980. They moved to Toledo in 1984 with Susan’s two children, Alison and Aaron Melby.
Bernie had an interest in live theater and volunteered at the Village Players in Toledo, performing in Inherit the Wind, Six Degrees of Separation, and The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Trips to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake were annual events. He also loved attending the Ohio-Meadville Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute, which he co-chaired one year.
He was proud of his work developing a program of creating residential services for persons with developmental delays and serving on the board of directors for Community Residential Services in Toledo. He received many awards over the years, including from Monroe County for the development of community-based training for cognitively impaired children and for development of parent training to facilitate language acquisition.
Surviving are his wife, Susan, and children, Aaron Spiegel and Jody Morgan, Alison Melby Reed and John Reed, and Aaron Melby.
Bernie was raised in the Jewish faith, attending synagogues in Cleveland, Ann Arbor, and Bloomington, Illinois before being introduced to Unitarian-Universalism at First Unitarian Church of Toledo, which he joined and attended for many years, participating in fellowship meetings, teaching in the religious education program, serving on the Board of Trustees, and playing drums and singing in The Gathering, an alternative music group. A Celebration of Bernie’s Life will be held at First Unitarian Church of Toledo, 3205 Glendale Avenue, on Saturday, February 18 at 1:00 PM.
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