School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

In Memoriam

We are saddened to announce the recent passing of friend and former colleague Dr. Stephanie Myers Schim who died peacefully in her sleep on February 19, 2016. Stephanie was formerly Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Family, Community, and Mental Health Nursing at the college. Her research and academic expertise focused on public health and end-of-life care and the provision of nursing care in the context of culture in community, institutional, and transcultural settings.

In the fall of 2014, Stephanie was involved in a serious accident that left her a quadriplegic. However, she remained steadfast in her commitment to the college and passionate about nursing. “When I arrived in April 2015, Stephanie’s accident had already occurred. However, the impact of her leadership here was unmistakable,” said Dean Laurie M. Lauzon Clabo. “Her fingerprints remain evident on many important college projects. She recently consulted on the revision of our mission statement, a legacy that will remain in the college, and guide our activities for years to come.

Stephanie was not only a WSU nursing faculty member but also an alumna. She earned her M.S.N. in 1981 and Ph.D. in 1997 from Wayne State. She joined the College of Nursing faculty in 2000.

“We shared a bond in wanting to do the best we could for the students, faculty and the college,” noted Janet Harden, Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs. She continued, “Stephanie and I could always have a good discussion, even about our differences.”

A leader on campus, nationally and internationally, her exceptional scholarship was recognized on many occasions. She was named a 2013 Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and received the 2011 WSU President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She was the author of numerous academic articles, a member of several professional societies and served on multiple committees.

Speaking of her friend and colleague of over 37 years, Assistant Professor, Dr. Joan Bickes, remembered, "Stephanie was so very talented in all that she did. She was an inspiration to all and she used her gifts to help others.”

She is survived by her son Michael Schim and will be greatly missed. On a personal level, Stephanie was cherished for her ability to encourage and support her students and colleagues. She was also a big fan of musical theater.



Our friend and colleague, George Augustine Cooney, Jr., was born in Detroit, MI on November 25, 1942. He died on June 30, 2007 at the age of 64 in his Ferndale home surrounded by his beloved family, cared for by hospice, and mourned by his friends and those whose lives he profoundly touched.

George was a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, earned his B.A. degree from University of Notre Dame in 1963, and his Juris Doctor from The University of Michigan Law School in 1966. He was a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate counsel and was listed in Best Lawyers in America. In addition to his busy private practice concentrating on estate planning and elder law as well as probate and trust administration, he was part of the adjunct faculty of the Wayne State University Law School. He authored several major books on aspects of elder law, probate, and estate administration, and wills along with some 50 chapters or supplements in other publications and he was a sought-after speaker. In 2007 the State Bar of Michigan Probate and Estate Planning Section Council awarded George Cooney the Michael Irish Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions.

George was a gentleman and a scholar. He loved to learn and to teach and his interests ranged far and wide. He was an avid gardener and very knowledgeable about plants, birds and the natural world. He loved music, singing, and instruments and met his wife, Mary Pratt Cooney, when he sang in the Michigan Opera Theater production of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. He performed with MOT from 1979-1984 where he sang in La Traviata, Turandot, Faust, and Aida. In addition to his using vocal talents, George was active for many years in the Child International Summer Village program. The CISV provides opportunities for pre-teens to travel abroad and learn about the world's diversity in order to foster mutual respect and world peace. He served on the vestry of St. John's Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, MI.

George was one of the most active early members of the Wayne State University End-of-Life Interdisciplinary Project and later of the Center to Advance Palliative-Care Excellence. He authored one of the EOL stories for the EOLIP project End-of-Life Stories: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries (Gelfand, Raspa, Briller, & Schim, 2005) and worked on many other sections of the book. He was one of the architects of the Interdisciplinary EOL issues course and shared his legal, ethical, and personal experiences with students and faculty as a favorite speaker each year. In Winter 2007, even as his cancer advanced and he prepared for his own transition, he spoke passionately with the students about what characterizes excellence in dignified end-of-life care.

George Cooney is survived by his wife of 20 years (Mary) and four sons (Christopher, Daniel, Jonathon, and Cameron). He had four beloved grandchildren ( Jakob, Julaine, Zakary, and Tobin). He also is remembered by his surviving brothers (Michael and Timothy) and 17 nieces and nephews. He is also survived by a large legion of professional colleagues and students who will remember his kindness, his infectious laugh, the sparkle in his eyes, and his strong advocacy for peace and caring. He is greatly missed.

- Stephanie Myers Schim, Ph.D., RN