A Tribute: Shimon Sapir, PhD, CCC-SLP

Our treasured colleague and friend Dr. Shimon Sapir passed away this spring. For many, many years, we have been close to Shimon as a colleague and as a wonderful friend. The world has lost an amazing man and we are sharing our memories in his honor. This tribute was written by LSVT Global Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Lorraine Ramig. 

Dr. Lorraine Ramig & Dr. Shimon Sapir

I had the great fortune of meeting Shimon and listening to his lectures early in our careers as Assistant Professors. Later, I had the privilege of writing a letter to support his tenure and promotion at Northwestern. When he was ready to move back to the US from his return to Israel, he reached out. I invited him to move to Denver and join our team at the National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) while he looked for a permanent job. It was a perfect fit as Shimon’s unique professional expertise spanned collaboration in basic science (e.g., laryngeal EMG with Drs Erich Luschei and Chuck Larson) to real world clinical speech assessment and treatment (e.g., with Dr. Arnold Aronson at Mayo Clinic). Shimon was a great match with our work in Denver and he brought us wisdom and vigor every day. He inspired my students at the University of Colorado Boulder with his lectures and me with his elegant perspectives both on laryngeal EMG and speech treatment. It was quite an enchanted time.

When Shimon moved on, we missed him greatly but fortunately we were able see him at meetings around the world. We had many great adventures, but a few stand out to me the most.

Three adventures come to mind. In Aix-en-Provence, France we presented at a speech and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) meeting. As we strolled down the narrow streets Shimon would often wander off causing us to chant “where is Shimon?”! Over and over with this question echoing in the streets.

Sooner or later, he would emerge with his big smile showing us his discovery, often some treat for us to snack on under the backdrop of Cezanne’s Mountain!! Oh, such a glorious time. 

Lorraine Ramig, Cynthia Fox, Shimon Sapir

Lorraine Ramig, Shimon Sapir & Cynthia Fox

Another time, we lectured in Seoul. We all went on a train ride very, very deep to the ground to see the demilitarized zone (DMZ). After emerging, we invited Shimon to have lunch. Our goal was to find the most authentic restaurant in real Seoul. After walking up a very long, wobbly flight of stairs, we entered to see very skeptical waiters. Without missing a beat, Shimon charmed them by simply gesturing for them to point to menu items (no words needed) and with a big ‘Shimon smile’ the waiters relaxed, and we had a superb authentic Seoul lunch!! 

Lorraine, Shimon, & Cynthia in Korea

The best memory however is when, on a visit to Israel, Shimon took us to his childhood kibbutz. He literally jumped out of the car, briefly showed us around the housing and ran out to the lawn and simply frolicked!! He was beaming saying “I loved it here!!” “I loved it here!” This is the most treasured memory I have of Shimon and his innate joy!! 

Shimon was a treasured colleague, but most of all he was a very, very dear friend, who I will always miss. Whenever I think of him, a big ‘Shimon smile’ spreads across my face and my heart is warmed. 

Lorraine Ramig, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, LSVT Global

We were deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Shimon. Shimon played a key role in advancing the science of LSVT. He was a prolific writer with an amazing ability to synthesize large bodies of literature into concise, explanatory text. His experience spanning the basic sciences to real-world clinical practice provided him with the most unique and thoughtful insights. Most importantly, Shimon was a wonderful, warm, spirited, fun and giving person. His giant smile, curiosity for life, and warm hugs will be immensely missed. Thank you, Shimon, for all you contributed to the science of LSVT and to all you gave us personally that greatly enriched our lives. You will be dearly missed.

– Cynthia Fox, Co-Founder and CEO, LSVT Global