Friday, August 12, 2011

Obituary: Byron Rourke, Ph.D.

Award-winning U of W prof dies
AUGUST 12, 2011 6:55 AM

Click here for full article and photograph

With a long string of letters following his name, Byron Rourke could have settled down anywhere in the world.

"He was born, raised, had a wonderful life in Windsor and eventually died there and he wouldn't have had it any other way," said Phil Rourke, Rourke's oldest son. "He had lots of opportunities to move elsewhere and every time he thought about it he said 'no, I'm going to make it here.'"

A retired University of Windsor professor of psychology and the recipient of numerous prestigious academic awards, Rourke died Wednesday at the age of 72.

Growing up in Windsor, Rourke attended Assumption high school before receiving his honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Windsor.

He the received a master's degree and PhD at Fordham University in New York before returning home to live and work in Windsor.

"He married a Windsor girl and produced four boys who grew up in Windsor," Phil said. "It's kind of a reverse of New York, if you can make it in Windsor, you can make it anywhere."

Rourke has been regarded by some as North America's preeminent child-clinic neuropsychologist and was the recipient of a membership as a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, a Gold Medal Award from the Canadian Psychological Association and an investiture into the Order of Canada.

Though Phil and his brothers would often become "guinea pigs" for his father's graduate students, he said having a child psychologist as a father provided them with pretty normal childhood.

"I had asked him once why he went into child psychology and he said it's because children have a chance," Phil said.

"If they get some serious diagnoses early on you can make a difference and I think that's what really what drove him."

Rourke, who Phil described as a "hulk of a man" with a "booming voice," filled his retirement with photography, philosophy, travelling, Tiger's baseball and playing the piano.

Rourke had beaten colon cancer and suffered a stroke about five years ago before he died in his sleep Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife Carolyne of 47 years, his sons Phil, Sean, Damon and Bernie and nine grandchildren.

Visitation for Byron Rourke will be held at Windsor Chapel Funeral Home, 1700 Tecumseh Rd. E., today from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A memorial mass will be held on Saturday at Our Lady of Assumption Parish, 350 Huron Church Rd., at 10 a.m.


Chris said...

His work is great. He is an inspiration. We are a nonprofit organization called NVLD, Inc. (we have a Facebook page too; please check it out), and our mission is to teach our community's educators new and creative ways to help kids with learning disabilities to understand and to be understood. Thanks, Dr. Rourke, for your amazing work.

Anonymous said...

The Non verbal learning disabled community and their friends want to say thank you for what you did. You gave many people a diagnosis that may have been categorized as autistic before. We have strong verbal skills and poor visual spatial skills, and you say that RIP Thank you for all you did for us

Mochridh said...

I will be forever grateful to Dr. Rourke for helping us get on the path to a proper diagnosis for our daughter and for empowering us, her parents, to know that our instincts were correct. Not every child needs to be immediately labeled as ADHD and forced to take medication as is the reflex in the "professional" sphere right now.
RIP Dr. Rourke

David said...

Thank you very much for your amazing work about non verbal disabiities.
From Spain,
RIP Dr Rourke