Justine Joan Sheppard, a pioneer in the study and clinical practice of
swallowing disorders, died March 31. She was 79. The cause of death was breast cancer.
Her career ranged widely. She taught, lectured and wrote extensively. Her Disphagia Disorders Survey is used internationally to measure the presence and severity of swallowing problems. The diagnostic tool is especially useful for the disabled who are at risk for inhalation pneumonia in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Born in The Bronx, Dr. Sheppard is a graduate of New York University and holds a PhD from Columbia University. At Teachers College Columbia University, she prepared two generations of students for careers as teachers and therapists. Her workshops were well attended, from Australia and New Zealand, to Singapore, the Netherlands and lesser known places such as Ljubljana, Slovenia.
She was a knowledgeable and ardent gardener and environmentalist. For nearly 50 years, she lived with her husband, Ron, on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey's largest inland body of water. Until the Eighties, the property was thick with Canadian hemlocks until an insect, known as the woolly adelgid, denuded and killed the trees. A handful still stand, due to Dr. Sheppard's relentless efforts. Ten years early, she was instrumental in establishing a community association that limited hemlock destruction and lake pollution when a builder attempted to overdevelop a neighboring 34-acres of centuries-old forest.
In addition to her husband, Dr. Sheppard is survived by their two sons, Daniel (Patricia) and Michael, and three grandchildren, Emma, Joseph and Leo.
Donations in her name may be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Anne Moore Breast Cancer Research Fund