Linda Schuberth, a senior occupational therapist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute who helped children overcome swallowing and feeding issues, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, March 5 at her Homeland home. She was 56 years old.
Linda Miller was born in Hazelton, Pa. She earned a bachelor's degree from Temple University and a master's degree from New York University. She was the director of occupational therapy at White Haven Center in White Haven, Pa., and at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She later held a similar post at United Cerebral Palsy in New York City. For two years in the 1980s she was a lecturer at the School of Occupational Therapy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Mrs. Schuberth then became an assistant professor in the department of occupational therapy at Temple University in Philadelphia. She moved to Maryland in 1985 to work with the Anne Arundel County public school system.
"Her colleagues recognized her compassionate, caring, curious, and generous nature," said a Kennedy Krieger colleague, Kristin Brockmeyer-Stubbs. "She had the strength of her convictions, and she valued her commitment to family, friends, colleagues and her patients. She always had a smile on her face and sense of humor. We laughed hard and often."
From 1988 to July 2010 she had been Kennedy Krieger's senior occupational therapist. Medical colleagues said she was nationally certified and recognized as an expert in feeding and swallowing disorders in children. She also wrote numerous scientific articles.
"Linda was a master clinician, participated in research from early on in our department's history. She mentored students, staff and trainees from every discipline and provided training locally, statewide and nationally, said Ms. Brockmeyer-Stubbs. "She became an advocate for children and families who dealt with feeding and swallowing issues. She was the go-to person for our interdisciplinary team to help problem-solve tough issues. Even after her retirement, I and others sought her advice. I can't think of a time after retirement when Linda didn't say, 'I really miss OT.'"
Mrs. Schuberth told her co-workers "she was shaped by all the kids she saw for evaluations and treatment and by her relationships with staff." She said she liked working at Kennedy Krieger because there was "nowhere else where she could see children from neighborhoods in our community and then also see clients from all over the world."
She said she gained satisfaction by "being on the ground floor from when the feeding clinic started many years ago" and working alongside allied medical professionals.
"Linda celebrated life. She found the balance between home, work and leisure and lived this well," said Ms. Brockmeyer-Stubbs. "She inspired us to exercise, take care of our families and our pets."
Kennedy Krieger Institute established a lectureship in her honor.
Family members said Mrs. Schuberth enjoyed biking, yoga, skiing, scuba-diving and running. They said she always smiled as she ran. She competed in a triathlon and was an avid golfer. She had a fondness for extra-spicy sauce and grew her peppers to make it, they added. She also embraced rescued dogs. She had two shepherd mixes from Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue and supported that cause.
"She always rooted for the underdog," said her husband, Dr. Kenneth Schuberth, a pediatrician who specializes in allergies and asthma. "You could see it in everything she did, whether it was her kids with their difficulties or her rescue dogs. She loved watching a tape of Susan Boyle, the singer who stunned people by her performance. Susan was the underdog, and Linda saw that."
Her family said that Ms. Schuberth wanted to be an organ donor but that her diagnosis of ALS prevented this. She then directed that her nervous system tissue be donated for ALS research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Christ the King Church, 1102 Hart Road in Towson.
In addition to her husband of 21 years, survivors include two daughters, Dr. Jennifer Bess of Nashville, Tenn., and Molly Casey of Fairfax, Calif.; and four grandchildren.