On Saturday, August 15, 2015, Scott DeGarmo died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Riverdale, NY, after exchanging goodbyes with his wife and daughters. Scott was a giant in our field and a dear friend for many years.
When Scott acquired Broadband Properties a little more than a decade ago, its activities consisted primarily of publishing a trade magazine for owners and managers of multi-tenant properties and holding an annual conference for them. Over the years, under Scott’s visionary leadership, Broadband Properties expanded its services in the multi-tenant market and it increasingly focused its attention on the needs of cities, towns, and other localities across America for advanced communications capabilities and services. Broadband Properties ultimately became Broadband Communities, and its magazine, primers, and other publications became must-reading for community leaders, industry executives, policy makers, and others stakeholders in America’s broadband Internet future. Broadband Communities also hosted increasingly well-attended national and regional conferences featuring the latest and most important developments in fiber-based communications, presented by key federal, state, and local officials and a broad range of experienced practitioners. Scott repeatedly insisted that speakers talk in plain language and provide as many real-world examples as possible, so that each attendee could take home valuable information that he or she could use immediately.
If these had been Scott’s only accomplishments, they alone would have entitled Scott to our deep gratitude and praise. But Scott’s contributions ran so much deeper. In particular, in establishing the policies and high standards for Broadband Communities publications and events, Scott also played a major role in shaping and accelerating America’s deployment, adoption, and use of fiber-based broadband access to the Internet. That is, Scott did not just disseminate information about important developments; he also had much to do with stimulating and influencing many of these developments.
More specifically, Scott and his excellent team at Broadband Communities typically targeted the most important issues of the day and brought together the best minds to address them, with Broadband Communities readers and event attendees sharing the experience. Among the many critical issues that Broadband Communities explored this way were how to develop a national broadband strategy, how to use advanced communications capabilities to drive and support economic development, how to stimulate broadband deployment and use in rural and other high cost areas, how to make federal stimulus-funded projects economically sustainable, how to preserve and protect local Internet choice, and how to foster public-private collaboration and partnerships. In his quiet, understated way, Scott left an important mark on all of these issues and many more. As Harry Truman observed, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
But what about the man himself? As word of Scott’s passing has gotten around, tributes have poured into Broadband Communities from all directions, from individuals and entities of all kinds. Again and again, Scott’s many colleagues and friends have stressed his intelligence and creativity, his unbounded positive energy, his kindness and grace, his generosity, his unassuming modesty, and his deep commitment to making fiber-based access to the Internet the platform and driver of simultaneous progress in just about everything that matters to America’s communities.
In sum, in his professional life, Scott had an extraordinarily significant impact in making our corner of the world a better place. On a personal level, he left us a wealth of warm and wonderful memories. In fact, looking back over the last decade, it’s hard to think of many individuals who contributed more.
Scott has now left us physically, but his legacy will live on. In recent weeks, recognizing that his time was short, Scott repeatedly asked those of us in his leadership circle to do everything possible to ensure that Broadband Communities will continue to grow and thrive. In particular, Scott wanted us to have a great conference in Lexington, Kentucky, from September 15-18, 2015, in part to demonstrate that Broadband Communities can remain successful without him at the helm. Please join us there if you can. In particular, I urge CLIC members to check out our outstanding program on the morning of September 18.
–Jim Baller, President, CLIC