Celebration of Life: Scott C. LaBarre
July 2, 1968 – December 10, 2022
Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows | January 21, 2023 | 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time | Lone Tree, Colorado
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Scott Charles LaBarre was a dynamic, dedicated, and diligent man whose life was characterized by gentleness, kindness, love, and a passion that resulted in hard work, initiative, and a determination to make the world better in every place he touched. There was nothing we asked of him that he did not tackle willingly and with enthusiasm. When we asked him to lead, he served as the affiliate president in Colorado from 2005 until 2021.
When we asked him to use his skills to extend our rights through his knowledge of the law, again he answered, eventually becoming the National Federation of the Blind’s chief counsel and making a name for himself not only among blind people but among colleagues who also practice in the legal profession. His work has made more books available to blind Americans and to blind citizens around the world.
He has made the world a safer place to travel because of his work to make quiet cars audible. His love and passion have taught us all how to be generous and giving and to consider it an honor to be a giver. In the Jacob Bolotin Award he received in 2014, we recognize that Scott’s contributions are not measured in steps but in miles, and the bar is one he has set by example that stretches us all and allows us to reach beyond where we were to where we dream to be.
Celebration of the Life and Legacy Order of Service
Master of ceremonies: Kevan Worley
Prayer: Mary Ellen Jernigan
- Mark A. Riccobono, President, National Federation of the Blind
- Dianne Primavera, Lieutenant Governor, Colorado
- Julie Deden, Executive Director, Colorado Center for the Blind
- Julie Reiskin, Executive Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
- Jessie Danielson, State Senator, Colorado
- Alan Olson, Thirty-Year Friend of Scotty
- Maryanne Diamond, Past President and Representative to the Marrakesh Diplomatic Conference, World Blind Union
- Francis Gurry, Former Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization
- Daniel Goldstein, Founding Partner, Brown Goldstein & Levy
- Judy Perry Martinez, Past President, American Bar Association
Musical interlude: Stray Dog
- Pam Allen, First-Vice President, National Federation of the Blind
- Marc Maurer, Immediate Past President, National Federation of the Blind
- Jessica Beecham, President, National Federation of the Blind of Colorado
- Anahit LaBarre, Wife of Scott
Musical interlude: Cherry Creek High School Meistersingers
Final thoughts: Kevan Worley
Moment of silent benediction
Exiting remarks: Mary Ellen Jernigan
A Life of Spirit, Service, and Strength
Scott C. LaBarre has made his place in history as a giant among those in search of civil rights for blind people as well as among those who pursue justice for all who receive less than they are due. He was the general counsel to the National Federation of the Blind and managed a multi-million dollar legal advocacy program. Because of him, applicants can use assistive technology as an accommodation on the multistate bar examination and can pursue a doctor of chiropractic degree with their desired accommodations. More systemic in nature were his victories in employment law, disability rights, and international policy work, particularly in the area of copyright law. There he was a primary advocate for an amendment to the Copyright Act, allowing materials to be transcribed for use by the blind without having to undergo the long and tedious process of prior approval, which was the case prior to 1996. Extending this work, he was instrumental in the drafting and adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty, permitting the sharing of books in special formats among the blind and print disabled of many countries.
Scott was permanently admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and DC Circuits; the United States District Court for the District of Colorado; the Supreme Court of Colorado; the United States District Court for the District of Maryland; and the Maryland Court of Appeals (Maryland’s highest court). He was named one of Colorado’s Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers, distinctions recognizing the top five percent of Colorado attorneys.
A role model for many, Scott understood the importance of serving in the American Bar Association, believing that advancing his career must proceed hand in hand with advancing his career field. He was a founding member of the Disability Rights Bar Association and served on its Executive Board as Vice Chair. He served a three-year term on the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors, where he chaired the Member Services Committee and served on the Board’s Executive Committee during his last year. Scott was also active in the ABA's Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division, holding a position on its governing council for several terms. He recently became Chair of the Division in August of 2022. ABA President Reginald Turner asked him to serve on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Meetings and Travel and the Steering Committee of ABA’s Practice Forward, a committee appointed to examine the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the practice of law. Scott represented the Denver Bar Association as a Delegate to the ABA’s House of Delegates. And within the National Federation of the Blind, Scott served as the president of the National Association of Blind Lawyers for more than twenty years.
More impressive than his professional accomplishments are the things Scott did for his family, biological and spiritual. He knew he was one of the luckiest men alive when Anahit agreed to be his wife and lifelong partner. Together they brought into the world and nurtured two souls who would mean more to Scott than any hired or elected position. Being the finest father he could be was a commitment he strove to honor and uphold throughout his life. He cheered on Alexander as he played baseball and was immensely proud when he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Scott was enthusiastic in Karter’s participation in the choir, on the basketball court, and in the theater activities where set design became a major focus and may well become a career. We dare not forget his beloved labradoodle, Moka.
Scott loved the mechanics of flying, even when his life was made more difficult as a blind consumer who would not be left alone by those intending on learning where it was he was trying to go and telling him how slow and deliberate he should be in getting there. He loved anything to do with space and space travel and, when there was a launch or landing, he was often found in front of a television set cheering on the activity in the same way he would celebrate the victories of his favorite college and professional sports teams.
This outstanding Federationist will always be remembered for his distinguished service to the Colorado affiliate, the Colorado Center for the Blind, and his long-standing and successful efforts to raise funds through the NFB monthly donation program. Beyond his work, our love sprang from his determination to make us laugh, feel better about ourselves, and to know that we are appreciated and loved. Scott was one of the finest examples of an integrated human we have ever known, and may his work and example propel us not only to greater victories but to even greater successes as we strive to live as full and balanced people.
Scott LaBarre Legacy
Scott worked tirelessly to build the National Federation of the Blind. If you would like to contribute to further Scott’s legacy, please consider a gift to the Museum of the Blind People’s Movement. The next frontier is to change the nature of the broader public perception of blindness. America has no cultural institution that centers the experience of blind individuals of diverse backgrounds and celebrates how those people worked together to lift each other up through centuries of misconceptions. It is no accident that the blind have made progress in society, it has come through the sacrifice, struggle, and generosity of blind people who have worked together to build their own independence.
It is time for us to tell our story, Scott’s story, in order to dramatically enhance the public understanding of blind people and our contributions within society. Our legal and legislative victories are central to our stories, and Scott’s work including the Marrakesh Treaty will be highlighted in the museum. The museum is encouraging five-year pledges during this phase of the campaign. Please contact Patti Chang for more information at 410-659-9314, extension 2422, or [email protected].
In addition to the museum campaign, the National Federation of the Blind recently established the Scott C. LaBarre Leadership and Justice Fund. The fund will support many things that were near and dear to Scott, such as our advocacy work and our work around education. To give to the fund, visit https://nfb.org/donate and indicate that your donation is in memory of Scott.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to our museum or contributed to the fund. Please join in creating a lasting legacy for Scott.