Covering the Land of Lincoln

Garrett Scott Obituary (2022) – Normal, IL

NORMAL – Garrett Scott, 78, of Normal died at his home on Monday, August 8, 2022.

A public celebration of Garrett’s life will be announced for a later date this fall in Normal. A private inurnment will take place at Funks Grove Cemetery in McLean. Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home is handling arrangements.

Garrett Herschel Scott was born June 6, 1944, in Tuscola, IL to Leslie Maxwell Scott and Verla Benscoter Scott. When asked in later years for his birth date, Garrett would often simply answer, “D-Day.”

The responsibility for choosing his given name and middle name had been granted by his mother to his older siblings, who were given a list of family names from which to choose. These names were duly inscribed on slips of paper and scattered across the family’s living-room rug. The children then set a kitten loose among the slips and the first two names the kitten lit upon were given to the baby. His family, when pressed, will admit that they are grateful the kitten did not happen to name the baby Ochle Virgil Scott.

Garrett lived his entire life in Central Illinois, except for two years in elementary school when his family lived in Guntersville, Alabama. Guntersville also marked the only period in which he would on occasion water-ski to school. He was also said to have been the youngest Eagle Scout in Alabama the year he was awarded that badge.

Garrett graduated from Monticello High School and came to Illinois State Normal University in 1962. He ran for a time on the ISNU track team, and a photograph of him completing a two-mile race on a cinder track while he wore only a single shoe ( having somehow contrived to lose the other during the race) featured prominently in the university’s 1964 yearbook. Garrett graduated from Illinois State University in 1966 and later earned a master’s degree there as well.

Garrett volunteered in the spring of 1963 with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to register voters in Savannah, Georgia. Later that summer, he participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and he was in the crowd for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. These experiences helped shape Garrett’s future advocacy for civil rights and inclusion.

Garrett was a speech pathologist and taught in Bloomington District 87 schools for 38 years. He retired from teaching in 2004. His summer jobs included work with the Bloomington Parks Department as head counselor at Evergreen Day Camp at Forest Park and two summers as the manager of Camp Sokol in New Buffalo, Michigan.

Garrett served on the Normal Town Council for 23 years. His early advocacy for rails-to-trails development was instrumental in the development and construction of the Constitution Trail in Bloomington-Normal. The trail opened in 1989; it stretches today across the community and is used by thousands each year.

Garrett also once found himself on the losing end of a 5-2 council vote in 1996 that, if successful, would have extended protection to residents of normal against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation. The council subsequently voted to enact these protections in 2001. This issue was one among the many on the council that he handled with thoughtfulness, fairness, and an eye toward what he thought was right for the future of his community.

Garrett was taught to play the game of chess at age four by his older brother Winfield and he continued to play for the rest of his life. Garrett helped start the Twin Cities Chess Club in 1967 and for a number of years was active as both a player and a tournament director. He later took up scholastic chess coaching, and over some four decades met with frequent success on the state and national level, helping guide strong elementary and high school teams in District 87, Unit 5, and at University High School. He established the annual Martin Luther King Day scholastic chess tournament in 1988 and it continues to draw hundreds of players to this day. Garrett served as president of the Illinois Chess Association and as a state delegate to the annual meeting of the United States Chess Federation. He also served on the Executive Committee of US Chess. In 1994, US Chess named both Bloomington, Illinois and New York City as their “Chess Cities of the Year.” (Garrett took some modest pleasure in having New York City elevated to the same level as Bloomington, Illinois.) Garrett was given the Outstanding Career Achievement Award by US Chess in 2013 and received the Natalie W. Broughton Lifetime Achievement in Chess Award from the Illinois Chess Association in 2014.

In retirement he became an active member of a number of lunchtime discussion groups, book discussion groups, and occasional card games. These organizations included the Thursderians (his Thursday Presbyterian book discussion) and the Society of Books-otherwise known as the SOB’s. Garrett was also a member of the Young Men’s Club of Bloomington. He was a charter member of the New Covenant Community in Normal and also a member of First Presbyterian Church in Normal. Garrett married Sandra DeLannoy on February 28, 1967, at First Presbyterian Church in Normal.

She preceded him in death on October 31, 2009. Garrett and Sandra (who served on the McLean County Board and then as Director of Zoning for McLean County) have been described by a former town official as a power couple of 1980s Bloomington-Normal. They were indeed a couple that worked well together-in raising a family, in friendship, and in their work.

Garrett was also preceded in death by his four siblings: Bonnilyn Burden (née Scott), Leslie Maxwell “Max” Scott, Winfield Scott, and JD Scott. Surviving are his children, Garrett (Betsy Davis) Scott of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sarah (Andrew Cottonwood) Scott of Ellensburg, Washington, and one granddaughter, Lucy Scott. He is also survived by beloved members of both the extended Scott and DeLannoy families. When it came time for him to depart from any out-of-town visit with friends or family, Garrett could be counted on to rise from his chair and remark, “Well, I guess it’s time to get back to normal.” (This stands as a fair example of his humor.)

Garrett Scott was very much a normal man. He was also an extraordinary man—an unpretentious man of wide reading with a generous sense of humor, an appreciation for language, deep engagement in his community, and kindness for anyone he met.

Memorial contributions may be made to New Covenant Community in Normal or to the Illinois Chess Association.


Online condolences may be left at

Published by Legacy Remembers on Aug. 12, 2022.

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