In Memoriam

Scott Elder

Scott, from Medicine Lake, died on April 22. Many of you knew him and how extraordinary he was. Some of you did not so I want to tell you a little about him—it’s the least I can do. Indulge this old CEO for a moment.

Scott moved into Bluebird on Feb 7, 2007. It was our first CAC home, where we serve those with extraordinarily high medical needs with intense 1/1 or 1/2  nursing. If there was anyone who needed these services, it was Scott. He was just like you or me for many years—an ordinary citizen going through life living the best life he could. Then suddenly he suffered a catastrophic medical event. He was left with no movement, save with his eyes. But his mind was intact as well as his senses including feeling. With this event Scott was left fully paralyzed, unable to speak, locked into his own world. The suffering, loneliness, and frustrations must have been enormous.

Then came HBI. I am so proud of the HBI nurses and DSPs who worked with him over these 14 years. How privileged we all are to work in the same company they do. Scott had the courage and tenacity to work with them to create a real life that could give him relief and some enjoyment. They helped him find ways to communicate, to enjoy the sensory world, to keep him comfortable. Scott advocated for himself strongly, stood up for himself sometimes against family and staff, and they listened.


Many of the individuals at HBI teach us great truths about life: living in the moment, keeping life simple, the benefit of relationships. Scott taught me about courage. It isn’t always about being a firefighter running towards danger. Sometimes courage is a quiet resilience and stamina that endures great suffering and life-long discouragement—and then having the guts to work with others in creating another, new life.  He gave life to the words of another who suffered and overcame—Helen Keller who said that “although the world is full of suffering, its also full of the overcoming of it.” 

Scott was the strongest person I ever knew, but I do not want to whitewash reality. I don’t think he would have looked at his life this way. I believe he would have traded places with many of us in an instant. He didn’t choose to be a saint or an example.  Like the old Irish poet said: “if suffering brings wisdom, I would wish to be less wise.”  But I believe there were many moments when his new life at HBI brought Scott relief and contentment if not happiness.  ~ Don Priebe

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