Passings: Joanna Blake, professor emeritus of psychology

After courageously dealing with illness for several years, Professor Emeritus Joanna Blake died on Jan. 31.

Joanna Blake

Joanna Blake

Blake came to York University in 1971 and was a long-serving and central member of the Psychology Department’s Developmental Area through its many incarnations. She retired from York in  2004.

Blake’s research included work on gestures in language-impaired children and reading styles in dual parent and single parent families. Her important and engaging article published for The Psychologist, titled “The benefits of the bedtime story are no fairy tale,” was co-authored with her son, Nicholas Maiese.

Her monograph Routes to Child Language: Evolutionary and Developmental Precursors published in 2000 by Cambridge University Press presented her body of empirical and theoretical work on children’s acquisition of language. Blake was also an early editorial board member of the influential Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Her students recall her as an outstanding mentor who always showed patience, attentiveness and unqualified support. These same qualities made her a wonderful friend and colleague, said Professor Ellen Bialystok

She is survived by her husband Eugene, son Nicholas and daughter-in-law Kelly, daughter Rebecca and three grandsons. The family held a private funeral and is planning a public Celebration of Life for the spring.

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