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Published: 7/13/2006

Hearing, speech expert led BGSU department

Melvin Hyman, 79, co-director with his wife, Joy, of a hearing and speech center in Toledo and a former chairman of the Bowling Green State University department of communication disorders who was known widely for his expertise, died of cancer on Monday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

Mr. Hyman, of Sylvania Township, was in private practice with his wife, a speech pathologist, for about 30 years. Prior to that and overlapping with his private practice for about 10 years, he worked at BGSU. He retired in 1985 after 35 years, 29 years as department chairman.

"He really was responsible for a lot of the progress made in [the department's] early years," said Linda Petrosino, dean of the BGSU college of health and human services who succeeded him as department chairman. "He was dedicated to the profession and stayed involved."

He was a leader since the early 1950s in helping laryngectomy patients learn to speak after their larynx was removed, often because of cancer. He formed the New Voice Club about 50 years ago to help members learn to talk and to provide support to family members. He lectured internationally.

Mr. Hyman was a math major at Brooklyn College, from which he received his bachelor's degree. He became interested in speech when he worked at a camp for children who had cerebral palsy. He received his master's degree and doctorate from Ohio State University.

He worked with people who stuttered, transgender people, ministers, and broadcast announcers. He wrote books and gave speeches about vocal improvement. One talk was entitled, "Why Are So Many People Mumbling?"

"He had a whole thing - improve your voice, improve your life," his wife said. "Mel used to say, 'Open your mouth, move your lips, don't talk so fast.'‚óŹ"

Mr. Hyman was fascinated by language and made sure he learned basic words and phrases as he and his wife planned their world travels.

He was a Toledo Opera volunteer and was known to sing arias in the shower and burst into song otherwise.

"He was telling jokes and telling stories up until the end, singing 'Que Sera Sera' when he had a grim diagnosis," his wife said. "He had a very good attitude about life."

He was a leader in professional and health-related organizations. He was immediate past president of The Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim.

"He loved the Jewish community [and] was so concerned about making sure that the Jewish community would still flourish in Toledo," his daughter, Ilana Levin, said.

Surviving are his wife, Joy, whom he married June 10, 1973; daughter, Ilana Levin; and brothers, Leonard and Gerard Hyman.

Services will begin at 2 p.m. today in The Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim. The family will receive friends afterward in the Hymans' Sylvania Township home. Arrangements are by the Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Funeral Home

The family suggests tributes to the Mel Hyman Scholarship Fund at the BGSU department of communication disorders.



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