OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City area lost a giant last weekend when Mitch Scott, best known for his remarkable charitable efforts in the community, lost his battle with a lengthy illness on Sunday.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">
Mitchell Kevin Scott, 56, of Ocean City, who was the CEO of Great Scott Broadcasting and its fleet of area radio stations, passed away at his home in Ocean City last Sunday, after a lengthy battle with leukemia. Scott officially presided over a large, multi-station broadcasting company in Ocean City and across the Eastern Shore, but unofficially, he was one of the region’s greatest behind-the-scenes benefactor, a remarkably charitable individual who gave freely of himself and his vast resources for causes large and small in the community and far beyond.
A Celebration of Scott’s Life will be held on Saturday, March 23, at 11:30 a.m. at The Fountains in Salisbury. Additionally, the Greene Turtle North will host a Celebrate and Remember Mitch gathering on Sunday, March 24 from 1-3 p.m. with donations accepted for the American Cancer Society in his memory.
Over the years, Scott became a fixture at Ocean City fundraisers, donating thousands of dollars’ worth of tickets to shows and sporting events, limousine transportation, sports memorabilia and other valuables to countless silent auctions and fundraisers. His relentless and tireless efforts to reach the fundraising goals for the hundreds of charitable organizations and events he attended often had him literally giving the shirt off his back, or one memorable occasion, an expensive watch off his wrist.
Far beyond the countless fundraising events he helped organize and sponsor, however, were the quiet things he did for those in need in the community without recognition or spotlight. As the news of his passing spread this week, endless stories of the “little” things he did for those most in need around the community unfolded, painting a remarkable picture of an otherwise relatively private person.
“He was the most misunderstood guy in Ocean City,” said Greene Turtle owner and long-time friend Steve Pappas this week. “He was the most giving person I’ve ever known. He helped so many people with gestures I knew about, and I probably only know a tenth of what he did, and I was with him almost every day. He was a bigger than life guy. He was my best friend.”
Pappas told several stories illustrating Scott’s endless charitable efforts that often went unreported. For example, on one occasion, Scott told Pappas to pick him up in the Greene Turtle van on a whim and the pair went to Wal-Mart and purchased $2,000 worth of dog food and dropped it off at the Worcester County Humane Society unannounced and anonymously.
“So much of what he did went unnoticed or unreported and that’s how he wanted it,” he said. “I always found it a little unusual he was never recognized with a Citizen of the Year award. It’s really a shame because he did so much. As big and charismatic as he was, he’s kind of a forgotten guy.”
Due to his business success, Scott could have essentially done whatever he wanted or lived wherever he wanted, but instead worked for years at the front door at Fager’s Island, officially helping with security but mostly because he just wanted to be around the people. Fager’s Island General Manager Kevin Myers this week fondly recalled the gentle giant at the door.
“Mitch Scott was a tremendous part of Fager’s Island,” he said. “He was kind and unbelievably generous. A warm, spirited man and a great friend.”
Harry Reinhart worked for Scott for 17 years and saw first-hand his endless charitable efforts, from serving as auctioneer at fundraisers to the quiet, behind-the-scenes things he did for those less fortunate in the area. As Scott’s sort of right-hand man, Reinhart said some of the things he witnessed over the years were simply incredible.
“I started working for him in 1996 and I never really had a job title, just got him around and helped him with all of the different things he was doing for people,” he said. “He did so many things behind the scenes that people didn’t hear about or didn’t always notice.
Reinhart recounted the story of how Scott helped his niece get a job in Georgetown. When he found out she got the job, but didn’t have any way of getting to it, he bought her a car. He told another story of a girl that worked in an Ocean City restaurant that was dealing with a personal tragedy and had lost her place to live. When the people she worked with were rallying to help her with the money she needed for a new place, Scott reached into his pocket and wrote a check for $1,600.
“That’s just how he was,” he said. “He never had any ulterior motive. He just lived to help others. People that knew him knew he didn’t want a pat on the back. He did it because he could and he did it because he just loved helping people.”
Reinhart said Scott rarely turned down an appeal for help, large or small.
“He was a great man and he would show up and rally for every cause,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people took advantage of his kind nature over the years and he knew that, but he just didn’t care. He wanted to help.”
One of Scott’s favorite beneficiaries was the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD). Over the years, he contributed to the OCPD’s annual Torch Run and the annual holiday food and toy drive. He once bought a K-9 dog for the OCPD from Belgium, and when the dog perished en route to the resort, he turned around and bought another one. He also bought bikes for the OCPD bicycle patrol and contributed to the mounted unit. Most recently, he purchased a Taser for the department.
“Mitch was a staunch supporter of public safety in general and the Ocean City Police Department specifically,” said OCPD Public Information Officer Mike Levy this week. “He was an individual of great charity and a special personality who was very involved in his community. He was just an all-around really nice guy and a generous man and our prayers and sympathies go out to his family.”
Scott’s contributions to the community he loved are well documented, if not always recognized, but he also got behind several larger causes over the years. For example, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he organized an effort to raise about $60,000 for the World Trade Center Relief Fund. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf area, he organized a major local relief effort for that cause. Previously, he led a cause for Hurricane Mitch victims over 10 years ago. Mostly, however, his generosity was concentrated in and around the home front.
“It’s always tough when we lose one of Ocean City’s residents, but we lost a very important resident on Sunday morning,” said Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan at the council meeting this week. “He has been in Ocean City and in the radio business in the surrounding area for years, and Mitch is one those who gave a lot more to others then he gave to himself.”
Meehan praised Scott’s unending generosity and sent out prayers and well wishes to his family.
“He was always active in fundraisers and played Santa Claus and when you needed somebody to make a contribution to something, it was Mitch Scott,” he said. “If you needed somebody to organize something to benefit somebody else, it was Mitch Scott, and it is really a shame that we lost him on Sunday. We want to send our thoughts and prayers out to his family and all his friends, of which there are many throughout the Ocean City area.”
State Senator Jim Mathias, the former Ocean City mayor, also recalled Scott’s generous nature and presented him with a key to the city back in 2002 during a fundraising effort at the Greene Turtle.
“He was philanthropic in Ocean City in so many ways,” he said. “Every time there was a fundraiser or somebody need in our community and beyond, he was the first guy to answer the bell. On top of that, he was always just a really good friend.”
The long arms of Scott’s charitable giving are far-reaching and extend well beyond Ocean City and the resort area. For example, when Ocean City local Kyler Taustin was just starting his Brown Box theater project, a traveling company that brings Shakespeare at the Beach to Ocean City and the resort area each summer among other projects, Scott helped jumpstart the fledgling company.
“Mitch Scott was Brown Box’s first patron without whom this company would not be in existence,” Taustin said this week. “At the beginning, as Kim and I worked to create this company, Mitch, with no reservation, believed in our vision and helped us bring to life our first production, which launched this company forward to be what it is today. As we sought to create our Free Shakespeare initiative, Mitch was a major factor in its realization and development.”
Taustin said in a letter to his company this week, Scott was a behind-the-scenes benefactor and vowed to continue the good work he helped create.
“As Brown Box has grown over the last few years, I cannot help but remember our roots and how it all began and Mitch is a major part of our story,” he said. “As we prepare to begin this year’s journey, I would like to dedicate this season to him.”
Kyler Taustin’s father, Jay Taustin, patriarch of The Embers family, was also a long-time friend of Scott and fondly remembered all of those years this week.
“Mitch was the consummate friend,” he said. “He was gracious, very generous and fiercely loyal. On the rare times I could do something for him, he was truly appreciative. Mitch was a genuine good guy and incredibly honest, and that’s sadly very rare these days. I am really going to miss him.”
Scott nurtured countless business relationships over the years, but perhaps more importantly, he simply made friends. Area businessman Avi Sibony first met Scott 25 years ago when he was launching his Sunsations businesses and advertised on his radio stations. Over the years, they developed a close friendship that Sibony grew to cherish for a variety of reasons.
“Mitch was a person who would always jump and do everything in his power to help if you needed something,” Sibony said. “When we were fundraising for our temple, he would always give us tickets from different shows and was even able to hook us up with some Super Bowl tickets. Mitch will always be remembered as a good person. He was really a good friend as well.”