In Memoriam

The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine notes with sorrow the recent passing of the following members of the rehabilitation medicine family (based on information received from friends and family).

  • Amber Shurb-Beach

    The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine remembers Amber Shurb-Beach (SLP '16)

    Amber’s friends, family and the speech-language pathology class of 2016 are organizing a donation to support the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Camp in her memory. More...

  • Arleen Marie Nicholls

    In Memoriam: Arleen Marie Nicholls (Physiotherapy Class of 1960) February 1, 1939 - November 25, 2018

    Arleen passed away unexpectedly at the age of 79 on November 25, 2018 in Victoria. She is survived by the loves of her life: daughters Cathy (Tony) Weicker and Sandy (Mark) Huisman; sister Judy Cronk; granddaughter Alexandra and her precious cat Boop. Predeceased by parents Frank and Eileen Parnett and sister, Debbie Haraysn. Arleen was born February 1, 1939 in Saskatoon. Her passions included reading and scrapbooking. In addition to a career as a physiotherapist, Arleen spent countless hours volunteering on a variety of committees and was an active member of Central Baptist Church. She loved her immediate and extended family and enjoyed socializing with them. Arleen will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Victoria Humane Society. Friends and family are welcome to attend the Celebration of Life on Tuesday, December 4 at 1:00 p.m. at Central Baptist Church, 833 Pandora Avenue, Victoria. Condolences may be offered at

    Obituary taken from the Sands of Victoria website.

  • Barrie Pickles

    In Memoriam: Barrie Pickles (BScPT ’70) 1932–2017 

    The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine family remembers Mr. Barrie Pickles of Kingston, Ontario, who passed away on July 7, 2017.

    Barrie was part of a number of firsts for the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine during his early career.

    He was among the first graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy program at the U of A School of Rehabilitation Medicine, after its diploma program was replaced by a degree program in 196970.

    Barrie served as Head of the Physical Therapy Division in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy from 1975 to 1976. He was a strong supporter of the program's development and transition from a school to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine with three distinct departments, and was appointed the first Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy (197679) when the school gained faculty status.

    Barrie made significant contributions to rehabilitation medicine in Canada. After the University of Alberta, Barrie moved to Queen's University in Kingston, where he became the third Director of Rehabilitation Medicine. The U of A Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine family sends our condolences to Barrie’s family and friends.

    Barrie Pickle's obituary.

  • Benita Fifield

    Benita Fifield: Remembering an educator, innovator, mentor, pioneer and philanthropist

    Fifield made lasting contributions to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. More...

  • Dianna Mah-Jones

    Remembering Dianna Mah-Jones (DipOT ’72, BScOT ‘79)

    The occupational therapy communities in Alberta, BC, and indeed, across the country, are shocked by the tragic deaths of Dianna Mah-Jones, and her husband Richard Jones on September 26, 2017 in their Vancouver home.

    Dianna was an alumna of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. She earned her diploma in occupational therapy in 1972, followed by her bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy in 1979. Subsequently, she completed a master’s degree in health administration at Central Michigan University.

    She was an exemplar of a caring health professional, extraordinary mentor to students and other occupational therapists, a passionate lifelong learner and a colleague who generously shared her time, expertise and energy. Her contributions have been recognized in numerous ways, including, most recently, the Outstanding Occupational Therapist award from the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists - British Columbia in 2015, and she was named the Vancouver Coastal Health and Provincial Health Care Hero in June 2017.

    As a long-standing occupational therapist at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Dianna continued to serve as a preceptor for occupational therapy students at the University of Alberta. She was committed to providing continuing professional education and workshops to practitioners in occupational therapy and physical therapy, and to students. Her workshops extended to her alma mater where she offered generous gift certificates that would allow University of Alberta students to attend her workshops.

    Dianna's dedication to her clients, students, and colleagues made her a positive force people gravitated to. She was approachable, and welcomed challenges with optimism. The Department of Occupational Therapy extends sincere condolences to the family of Dianna Mah-Jones, and to all individuals whose lives she touched.

    “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Dianna and her husband. On behalf of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, my condolences to her family, friends and colleagues,” said Dean Bob Haennel.

    The Dianna Mah-Jones Memorial Fund has been created in Diana's name to support the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. Online donations to the Memorial Fund can be made at

    Under "Would you like to direct your gift to an area not listed?" click on the green “+" and enter "Dianna Mah-Jones Memorial Fund" as the name of area.

    Read Dianna's obituary.

    Dianna's family is organizing a memorial service (Celebration of Life) for Dianna and her husband. 

    Central Lions Recreation Centre, Atrium
    11113-113 Street, Edmonton
    Sunday, November 19, 2017
    3:00-5:00 p.m.

  • Heather Jean Cumming

    In Memoriam: Heather Jean Cumming (Dip(RM) '59) July 18, 1939 – September 7, 2018

    Heather Jean Cumming (nee Wright) July 18, 1939-September 7, 2018. With heavy hearts, our family announces the passing of our amazing wife, mom, grandma, aunt, cousin and friend, Heather Jean. Heather was born in Fleming, Saskatchewan to Gordon and Florence Wright, who were both teachers. They instilled in her a love of reading, writing and lifelong learning. Heather attended the University of Alberta graduating in Physiotherapy. While studying, she met Roger and they were married in 1960 while he was still in medical school. They had four children and settled in Kelowna in 1971. Heather was passionate about her family and friends and was happiest just being in their company. She loved to discuss and debate any topic and spoke her mind eloquently, while respecting differing opinions. Heather encouraged her children to explore their interests and, like a true mom, these interests became her passions too. Heather loved to be outdoors skiing, golfing, walking, running, or hiking. She loved to read and write and belonged to a Canadian authors' book club for over 50 years. She completed a diploma in English Literature at Okanagan College and had some of her articles published. Heather loved music and was the initiator of the Kelowna Music Society and a huge supporter of the fledgling Okanagan Symphony Orchestra in the 1970's. She worked as a pediatric physiotherapist at the Okanagan Neurological institute and later as a realtor. Heather was predeceased by her parents and is survived by her husband of 58 years, Roger, her sister-in-law Eleanor (David), her children: Lisa (Duane), Lynn (Lindsay), Scott (Nora), David (Heather); grandchildren: Ben, Liam, Jordan, Makena, Tristan, Brooke, Taylor, Paige, and Ella. Heather's spirit will live on in her loving family. Heather fought valiantly against Alzheimer's and did not allow this disease to diminish her amazing spirit, determination, grit and grace. She was beautiful in so many ways, but it will be her generous heart, radiant smile, and genuine interest in those around her that will be remembered. Heather loved books and believed literacy was one of the greatest gifts. As Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” In her memory, consider donating to The Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation or a library of your choice. Please join Heather’s family in a celebration of her life at Kelowna Harvest Golf Club on Friday, Oct. 5th, 2018 from 1-4 pm.

    *Text borrowed from Heather's obituary on

  • Jennifer Lynn Smith
    In Memoriam: Jennifer Lynn Smith (MScSLP ’94) 1965–2017

    Submitted by Jennifer's family and friends

    Having squeezed every precious moment out of life that she could, Jennifer Lynn Smith passed away July 9, 2017, aged 52.

    Jennifer was born February 2, 1965 and grew up in Winnipeg. During her school years, Jennifer made many friendships which became life-long. Jennifer graduated from Kelvin High School (1983), then the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English (1988). She studied Speech-Language Pathology at the University of North Dakota (1991-1992), followed by her Master of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Alberta (1992-1994). Jennifer was in the first Master of Speech-Language Pathology class at the University of Alberta; it was a close-knit and special group from across Canada. Jennifer brought her humour, intellect, warmth, friendship, balance and creativity to the program. She also contributed a sense of adventure, having sky-dived with other Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine students! The class was truly enriched by her presence.

    Following graduation, Jennifer worked at the Child Guidance Clinic (St. Vital School Division) in Winnipeg, until January 1995. She and her young family moved to Dryden Ontario where she worked for the Dryden School Board from January 1995 until September 1997. Jennifer then re-joined the Child Guidance Clinic in Winnipeg, which had become part of the Louis Riel School Division.

    Jennifer’s colleagues in the Clinical Service Unit remember her as an outstanding speech-language pathologist who was an important addition to Louis Riel School Division. Her professionalism and expertise were highly valued by those who worked closely with her over the years.

    Colleagues appreciated Jennifer’s willingness to share information, her creativity, initiative and hard work. Jennifer was a leader within the team of speech-language pathologists, often gently reminding her colleagues to write recommendations for teachers that were practical and curriculum related. Jennifer continually encouraged them to pick the 'top three' recommendations rather than overwhelming busy staff.

    Through her daily interactions, Jennifer showed a deep commitment to the staff and students in her schools. She worked hard to fulfil her students’ needs, whether it be through reports, material preparation, consultation, workshops or parent meetings. Jennifer’s warmth and kindness brought out the best in the many students and teachers she interacted with during her busy days. She was well respected and had an excellent rapport with children.

    Jennifer was a pioneer in working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, utilizing “Social Thinking” programming. She kept up with current research and practices to develop the most effective and appropriate programming for this growing population. Her knowledge and experience established her as a leader in the development and use of a new social communication assessment tool and complex programming for students with social challenges. Colleagues appreciated Jennifer’s knowledge and expertise with respect to socially challenged students. Despite her heavy workload, Jennifer always made time to consult with colleagues.

    Her Louis Riel School Division colleagues appreciated all the important and meaningful contributions that Jennifer provided to staff, students and families. Jennifer’s extensive knowledge, quiet persistence and gentle demeanor have inspired many teachers and colleagues.

    Jennifer is deeply missed by her partner of 34 years and husband of 26 years, Christopher Pate, her children Dylan and Nicole, as well as family and many friends.
  • Lorraine Wylie
    In Memoriam: Lorraine Wylie (BScSPA ’76, MScSLP ‘99) 1954-2017

    The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine family remembers Mrs. Lorraine (Cowie) Wylie who passed away on September 21, 2017, due to complications of frontal temporal degeneration/dementia.

    Lorraine was an alumna of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology in 1976, and returning to complete a master’s degree in speech pathology and audiology in 1999.

    After graduation, she worked as a speech-language pathologist for 37 years, first at the Glenrose Hospital, then the City of Edmonton Board of Health and finally at the Grey Nuns Hospital for 26 years.

    Lorraine was a huge supporter of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine’s speech-language pathology program, providing annual lectures for the students and offering her time and guidance to students through clinical placements.

    She was a recipient of the Alberta Rehabilitation Coordinating Council’s Supervisor of the Year award in 2007, and provided more clinical placements for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders than any other educator.

    Lu-Anne McFarlane, associate professor and academic coordinator of clinical education for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, worked closely with Lorraine.

    “I estimate that Lorraine worked with 60 students during her years as a speech-language pathologist. It is a testament to her commitment to the profession and her skills as a clinical teacher. No other SLP clinician has been involved with that number of students and I expect the number will never be topped,” said McFarlane.

    “Lorraine also contributed a seminar in my spring course each year. Students referred to these presentations as inspiring and ‘life altering.’ It is not possible to overstate the contributions she made to the profession through her caring clinical work and her role as a mentor to students.”

    The U of A Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine family sends our condolences to Lorraine’s family and friends.

    Read Lorraine Wylie’s obituary.
  • Marcy Lynn McCaw (Heschuk)

    In Memoriam: Marcy Lynn McCaw (Heschuk) (BScPT ’95, BPE ‘96) 1971–2017

    The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine remembers Mrs. Marcy Lynn McCaw (nee Heschuk) who passed away on July 7, 2017 at the age of 46.

    Read Marcy’s obituary.

    Marcy was an alumna of the University of Alberta’s Faculties of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physical Education and Recreation, and a Panda’s athlete. She positively impacted many lives through her career as a physical therapist.

    The UAlberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine family sends our condolences to Marcy’s family and friends.

    A Memorial Fund has been created in her name to support a student award in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. Online donations to the Memorial Fund can be made at

    In the “Direct my donation to” area, enter the donation amount in the “An area not listed” box; in the tab labelled, “Would you like to direct your gift to an area not listed?” please click on the green “+” to expand the area and enter “Marcy Lynn McCaw (Heschuk) Memorial Fund” as the name of the area.

  • Patty Rigby

    In Memoriam: Dr. Patty Rigby - 1955-2018

    Obituary taken from The Globe and Mail

    When death comes, like the hungry bear in autumn; when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me, and snaps the purse shut; ...

    When death comes, I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

    And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility.

    and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular, and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, tending, as all music does, toward silence, and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth.

    When it's over, I don't want to wonder If I have made of my life something particular, and real...

    I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

    (Mary Oliver - When Death Comes)

    Dr. Patty Rigby, in her sixty-fourth year, entered that cottage of darkness in the early hours of October 7, 2018. She did not simply visit this world. She embraced it in both her personal and professional lives, and in doing so made a difference to the lives of so many.

    Patty, who held both a master's and a doctorate in Occupational Therapy and Health Science, joined the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in 1994 at the University of Toronto where she worked until her retirement in 2017. Her research was critical in the development and advancement of one of the most widely recognized OT practice models, the Person-Environment-Occupation (PEO) model, which recognizes the importance of environment as a contributor to occupational performance and health. Patty also contributed to a ground-breaking shift in the OT lens by promoting the development of children's "play," uncovering the value in children's playfulness, which influenced the focus and development of treatment programs and evaluation tools. She was a much-loved and admired teacher in her field, and published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the course of her career. In June of this year Patty was awarded the 2018 Life Membership Award of Occupational Therapists in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the profession in research, practice and teaching.

    Patty met her spouse, Dr. John Wedge, while both were working at the University Hospital in Saskatoon in the 1980's. In 1988, their careers took them to Toronto together where they have made their home ever since. Together with John, she travelled the world on missions both professional and personal.

    Theirs was an enviable loving relationship, each respecting the professional demands of the other yet always protective of their time together, whether it was spent on the golf course, at their home in Savannah or their annual summer retreat to Cape Breton. Their time golfing on the May long weekend was the last carefree time they were able to share together.

    For Patty, family was first. She played a central role in the lives of her nieces and nephews (who knew her lovingly as "AP"), instigating family gatherings that created memories and bonds that will resonate through their lives. She steadfastly maintained close contact with all of her siblings and every niece and nephew, where ever they happened to be. When her beloved brother Murray died, Patty stepped in to give his children, Jordan, Sierra, and Aidan the love and support they needed. Living as she did in Toronto, she was close to the family of Dr. Charlotte Wedge, her spouse, Tom and their children, Ian, Georgia, and Patrick Nelson, to whom she was like a second mother.

    Patty was known within the circle of family and friends, fondly and reverentially, as "Patty Perfect". And perfect she was in so many, many ways; unfailingly cheerful, positive, generous, and loving. As the diplomatic middle child of five children, Patty was a unifying force all her life. She transformed for the better every room she entered and every person she encountered. In the words of Mary Oliver, Patty made of her life "something particular...and real."

    Patty leaves behind family members in Saskatoon, Calgary, Toronto, Australia, and many places in British Columbia (including her father, Eric; siblings, Gwen Beaton, Janet Rigby and Jeffrey Rigby), too many to otherwise name here; and an array of friends, colleagues, and students, all of whom have very heavy hearts as they come to terms with their enormous loss. Many assisted Patty and John on Patty's final voyage, but special recognition and thanks must go to Dr. Charlotte Wedge whose tireless support, both medical and personal, so profoundly eased her journey.

    The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Patty Rigby Scholarship in the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Toronto; or the Palliative Care Unit of Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto.

    A private interment ceremony will be held in Toronto at a later date.

    Dr. Patty Rigby's obituary

  • Sabine Liselotte Reich

    Sabine Liselotte Reich BSc(PT) '71

    Sabine Liselotte Reich of Edmonton, Alberta passed away in November 2016. 

  • Sylvia Helen Lofto

    Remembering Sylvia Helen Lofto: April 21, 1942 - February 9, 2017

    Sylvia Helen Lofto was born on Apr. 21, 1942. 

    Her career at the University of Alberta spanned several decades in the Departments of Zoology, Materials Management, and Occupational Therapy.

    Sylvia joined the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine's Department of Occupational Therapy as an Executive Assistant in 1985. She was a vital and major contributor to the design of the Department's administrative infrastructure during its significant growth period in the mid-1980's.  

    Her logistical prowess and coordination oversaw the timetabling, budgeting and offering of the accelerated program, and the initiation of the country's first Master in Occupational Therapy. She also played a vital role in the remodeling of Corbett Hall upon further departmental expansion. Within the University, she was a strong advocate for the Department and its programs.

    Sylvia, who retired from the University of Alberta in 2001, will be remembered for her integrity by those who worked closely with her.