Scott Street passes

W. Scott Street, IIIW. Scott Street III died on Sunday night, February 1, 2015. He was 70 years of age, and had been suffering this past year from the rare form of cancer that took his life.

While Scott was an active banjo player in the Richmond, VA area throughout his life, and a fixture at regional festivals and conventions, it was the kindness and generosity he showed to his fellow musicians that most marked this life filled with bluegrass.

In his “day job,” Scott was one of the top attorneys in the state of Virginia, reaching the sort of professional distinction and financial success that most banjo players can only dream about. But he was always quick to assist his fellows when legal advice was needed, typically refusing to accept payment from some of the most notable names in our business. I feel certain that he would prefer to keep those often substantial consultations private, but rest assured that his hand touched many disputes and challenges involving the heroes of bluegrass music.

He was also an avid aficionado of prewar banjos, a passion that led to friendships with banjo icons like Steve Huber, Sammy Shelor and Sonny Osborne. And he was the personal caretaker of a fine example of the type, one he was typically generous in sharing with others at events like Banjothon or the IBMA convention.

Among his many dear friends in the bluegrass world are Eddie and Martha Adcock, who shared this beautiful remembrance.

Eddie and Martha Adcock presenting at the 2012 IBMA Awards - photo by Ted Lehmann“Eddie and I met Scott Street through friends about four decades ago, our mutual interest being bluegrass music. Over the years, as more reasons and conditions arose to cement our friendship, none were more basic or vital than our affection for, and devotion to, bluegrass music.

Scott was multi-faceted and multi-talented, but those who associated him with his career world knew him as a top corporate attorney in Richmond, as well as one of the leading lights of the Virginia State Bar, which he has served as its president. On the occasion of his induction, his photo on the cover of their magazine shows a well-dressed Scott standing in front of a small, historic Virginia county court house… proudly holding his banjo.

His legal accomplishments were numerous, and further down I’ll quote some of them from the Virginia State Bar’s obituary for him on their website. His was a brilliant mind and kind heart, and he enjoyed the trust and confidence of all those in his field. The longer you knew Scott, the more reasons you had to love the man.

Scott was a very good banjo player in several styles and was one whose knowledge of ‘all things Earl’ was unsurpassed, as far as I know. And when Scott passed away, he was in the midst of writing a biography of Sonny Osborne, with many coveted, impossible-for-others-to-get interviews in his files (the book will be completed by someone else, whose name we can’t divulge).

Scott Street proved his love for music, and especially bluegrass, as a patron of the arts in the Richmond area, serving most lately on the board of nonprofit JAMinc which brought wonderful concerts to town. As far back as the ’70s we personally experienced his support of music: not too long after we had become friends with Scott, our band arrived in Richmond to play a certain club only to find a notice on its door stating that they were temporarily closed because of a revoked alcohol license. Scott, with the consent of his beautiful wife Gini (Virginia), came to the rescue (and not for the last time, I must add), opening the doors of their lovely new home to hastily invited friends and neighbors, and hosting us for a memorable ‘porch concert’ enjoyed by all present that evening.

He had a finely-tuned sense of humor, evident in his ready smile, and his wit could range from the urbane to the hillbilly, switching gears in a flash. He had a wonderful laugh, of course. And he was no lawyerly stick-in-the mud: once, years ago, when he arrived at a Richmond club where we were playing, he caused quite a stir, being dressed to the nines in a kilt with sporran and the whole Scottish regalia — a very daring thing to do at that particular blue-collar establishment.

Here’s some of what Scott accomplished in the world of law: as well as being a former president of the Virginia State Bar, he served for many years as the secretary-treasurer of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. Quoting now from the Virginia State Bar’s obituary on their website…

“Mr. Street was a lawyer in Virginia for forty-five years, with thirty-four at the Williams-Mullen firm in Richmond. He was president of the VSB in 1999-2000, but is perhaps best known for his dedication to the Board of Bar Examiners, where he served for forty years.

He was also a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, a trustee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, a member of the Richmond Bar Association, and past chair of the VSB Committee on Legal Education. He was a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a fellow and past president of the Virginia Law Foundation. Mr. Street was a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Virginia School of law.

‘He was a fine gentleman of the old Southern school – unfailingly courteous and charming,’ said former bar president Sharon D. Nelson. Another former president, Edward Lowry, added that ‘He was a model lawyer, bar volunteer, and gentleman, in the very best sense of each term. He gave selflessly for the betterment of lawyers in Virginia for so many years. He will be sorely missed.’

All this by a guy who just HAD to play banjo.

Scott was also an avid golfer, and one of his great pleasures must surely have been playing the links at St. Andrews in Scotland, the oldest golf course in the world, dating to the 1400s.

Despite his visibility owing to his accomplishments and associations, Scott was a modest and self-effacing man, always concerned about others, appreciative of others’ abilities and concerned about others’ welfare. He was what I unreservedly call a fabulously prime human being. Scott stood tall above most others in terms of character, good humor, good will and good deeds. With his natural warmth and extraordinary equanimity, you could immediately feel comfortable in his presence. Doubtless, everyone who knew him felt the same.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Gini, the kids and grandkids, and his many friends.

Rest in peace, dear pal.”

Scott Street relaxing at home, January 2015 - photo by Bob Brown for the Richmond Times-DispatchEarlier this year, the Richmond Times-Dispatch did an in-depth profile of Scott that focused on his bluegrass connection, and the fact that his cancer was likely to be terminal. Those who remember him fondly will want to read it.

A life-long Virginian, Street will be interred on Friday (2/6) at 1:00 p.m. Services will be held at the River Road Baptist Church in Richmond. Friends are invited to join the family following the funeral at the Country Club of Virginia, in the Westhampton Clubhouse. Visitors are asked to bring their instruments for a memorial jam.

My own memories of Scott are of a man very slow to anger, always ready with a kind word, a bright smile, and a word of encouragement. There was none like him, and not likely to be one again.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Scott’s favorite charity:

P.O. Box 8462
Richmond, VA 23226-0462

R.I.P., Scott Street.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.