Scott Albers, 64, died peacefully in Miles City after a sudden but mercifully swift battle with brain cancer.
The eldest of four, Scott was born in Champaign, Illinois in 1958. His childhood and teenage years were spent throughout Illinois, Missouri, and Florida. Growing up he was fiercely independent and pored over books, becoming a voracious reader and developing a lifelong love – and often encyclopedic knowledge – of history. He enjoyed series like The Andy Griffith Show (he referred to his part-time residence of Choteau as “Mayberry”) and knew after watching Perry Mason that he wanted to be a lawyer. Once he began playing the piano, he also immersed himself in music, which would serve as both a creative and intellectual outlet throughout his life; he wrote his own compositions, as well as played intricate, classical concertos and early jazz ballads, often colored by his own improvisational whims. If you search for Scott’s music online, you will find it on most streaming services; his family recently uploaded his recordings so they can be enjoyed by others.
His twenties were shaped by a number of moves – first from St. Louis, Missouri to the University of Colorado: Boulder; from there to the American College in Paris, where he served nearby as an artist in residence; he then completed his undergraduate degree at St. Louis University, and lastly attended law school at the University of Missouri: Columbia. His stories of Boulder always centered on his formative time and friendships in the Rocky Flats Truth Force, a group that protested nuclear proliferation. For decades afterward, he spoke proudly about being arrested with other members of the group. There is no shame in being arrested for a fight you feel is worth fighting, he often reminded his children, sometimes suggesting that everyone should know such a fight.
That sense of righteousness – along with his innate inquisitiveness, relentless advocacy, and philosophical mind – animated his entire career as a criminal defense attorney. He first served as a public defender in both Jackson, Missouri and Sedalia, Missouri before falling in love with Glacier National Park and leaving the Midwest for Montana in 1994. He took the role of Chief Public Defender in Great Falls and launched his solo practice there a few years later. In 2000, he received the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MTACDL) award for Lawyer of the Year. Having moved frequently in his own childhood, and despite the adversity he faced in the local legal community, he prioritized putting down roots for his children and would not move again until 2018.
That year he opened his Helena practice in Reeder’s Alley, enchanted by its brickwork and narrow little streets. Over the last five years, he made his office there as interesting and individualistic as his own life, often playing the piano in his front room and chatting with visitors who strolled by and stopped to listen. The places he lived and the relationships he developed were touched by his poetic sensitivity, love of beauty, boundless creativity, witty humor, and deep imagination.
Scott was blessed with three children – Andrew, Alison, and Rachel – and a 23-year marriage to his first wife, Claire; he remarried in 2022 to his second spouse, Charity Nakabugo. Other surviving family members include his mother, Muriel Albers, and siblings: Jeff Albers, John Albers, and Alison Burns. His family would like to thank Holy Rosary Hospice for the compassionate care they showed him in his final weeks.
Please join us to celebrate Scott’s life on Saturday, September 23rd. We will gather in Reeder’s Alley, in Helena from 3pm–6pm. In lieu of flowers, a donation is suggested to the ACLU of Montana.