Joshua Cantor, PhD, in memoriam

President's Message

In memory of Joshua Cantor, PhD, ABBB-RP: Division 22 has lost a valued mentor, colleague, researcher, advocate, clinician, friend. I recall, with great fondness, my time training at Mount Sinai, and the warm encouragement I received from Dr. Cantor. Please join me in offering condolences to those who worked closely with Joshua, and to his dear family. Should you wish to honor Dr. Cantor with a contribution or special remembrance, please contact Dr. Teresa Ashman or Dr. Theodore Tsaousides. Thank you to Drs. Ashman and Tsaousides for their eloquent memorial, printed in its entirety below.

Obituary

September 30, 2013

In honor of Dr. Joshua Cantor, a colleague, a mentor, and a friend.

Three weeks ago, the field of psychology suffered an incalculable loss.  Dr. Joshua Bertram Cantor, PhD, board certified in Rehabilitation Psychology, passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind him a devastating loss to the fields of rehabilitation and neuropsychology.

It was September 9, 2013, a beautiful end-of-summer morning, only two days prior to the anniversary of another magnificent September morning 12 years ago that also ended in unimaginable tragedy.  Although, Dr. Cantor’s death was caused by totally different circumstances, his loss was similarly devastating among the vast network of family, friends, colleagues, patients and pretty much anyone who had an opportunity to know him during his brief 47 years. It was the first day of school and after he and his wife Christina got one of their beloved children, Max, 8 years old, off to school, he went for a morning run to squeeze in some cardiovascular activity as he did practically every day. Upon his return, he was to take his darling daughter, Lucy to her first day of 5th grade. Sadly, as he was completing his due diligent post-run stretches, his heart that was so full of love and life ceased to beat. 

Three weeks since the shocking news, and we, like so many others, remain baffled by his absence.  We had the good fortune to work fervently next to Dr. Cantor for many years. The daily proximity allowed us to become friends beyond colleagues.  The long hours we spent together and the intense work that we did helped that friendship grow into an irreplaceable partnership.    

Equal parts researcher, clinician, mentor, and disability advocate, Dr. Cantor has left an indelible mark in the lives of his family, friends, colleagues, patients, students, and clinical trainees. His bright career in the field of brain injury rehabilitation is easy to trace through his impressive publication record, his innovative research portfolio, his active involvement in professional organizations, and his very long curriculum vitae.  

As a researcher, Dr. Cantor was dedicated to excellence.  He strived to combine innovation, relevance and quality.  Very interested in the broader wellbeing of individuals with brain injuries, he dedicated himself to developing and evaluating interventions that would give survivors solace, meaning and hope.  Dr. Cantor served as a reviewer and, more recently, assistant editor of prestigious journals in the field, which was yet another way that he contributed to his professional community.  His thoughtful and detailed reviews of manuscripts were certainly a step above and beyond what was required. 

Faithful to the scientist-practitioner model of training, Dr. Cantor dedicated a large part of his day to working directly with patients.  Whether under the auspices of clinical research or direct patient care, Dr. Cantor gave his utmost attention to his patients, maintaining a balance between humanity and expertise.  He understood the challenges that people with disabilities are faced with day to day and he made it his mission to help them accomplish a fuller life, despite their disability.

Finally, Dr. Cantor was a compassionate and resourceful mentor.  He shared his knowledge and experience with generosity and enthusiasm that inspired trainees at all levels.  Their interactions with Dr. Cantor were often the decisive factor for carving out a future career path in rehabilitation.  

This is the Dr. Cantor that most people in our field knew and met.

But in addition to the great professional there is the other part of Joshua.  The part that we, who had the blessing to work closely with him, got to know and enjoy for a time that was too short.  Joshua was the kind of person from whom you could always learn something.  His knowledge of useful, useless and interesting trivia was unprecedented.  His flexibility, switching from serious and professional to playful and humane, was the glue that created a cohesive work environment.  He had a very wide open door policy that we exploited on a regular basis, whether it was to vent about the workload, consult about a patient, tell a joke or share a cookie.   Joshua was the kind of person that could find a gem in the dirt.  He was brilliant in his ability to extract strengths in people, when every one else had lost hope.  The combination of his warmth and his wisdom made us all better professionals and better persons. 

Having worked with Joshua is a gift that we will always cherish.  He may be gone, but we are honored to carry on his legacy.

Teresa Ashman, PhD, ABPP-Rp
Theodore Tsaousides, PhD, ABPP-Rp