Remembering Larry Sipes
Dec. 21, 2022 - When Larry Sipes left NCSC’s San Francisco-based regional office to become the organization’s new president in 1990, he probably didn’t see the storm clouds on the horizon: a debilitating recession loomed, and with it, extraordinary financial pressures for the organization and its new leader. Sipes would serve as NCSC president through to 1996, before retiring to his walnut farm in Marin County, California. Sipes passed away on November 30, 2022, at the age of 85.
“Larry was a visionary and dedicated his professional career to providing justice through improving our courts," said NCSC President Mary McQueen. "His leadership, dedication and commitment became the cornerstones for the National Center for State Courts: 'Trusted Leadership – Proven Solutions – Better Courts.'"
Perhaps one of the boldest decisions Sipes made was to close the Center’s regional offices, which had become a financial drag, while creating an international consulting division as part of an effort to open a new stream of revenue for the organization.
“Brilliant, creative and decisive, Larry Sipes became President at a difficult financial time for NCSC,” said Linda Caviness, who served in multiple roles on Sipes’ leadership team in Williamsburg. “Within five years, making difficult, not necessarily popular decisions, Larry created a solid foundation for future growth of the then young institution. His vision and leadership established a basis for NCSC’s long-term success.”
Sipes announced his retirement from NCSC in late 1995, at the age of 58. At the time, he told the local newspaper that he was retiring to become a “house husband” and to spend more time with his children. In 2004, Sipes and his wife, Dale, an accomplished researcher who also wrote about court backlogs, were inducted into NCSC’s Warren E. Burger Society.
“Larry’s infectious smile and calm demeanor was an inspiration to us all at the Center and in the community,” said Mary Hogan, now a grants & contracts manager in the organization’s Accounting department, and its longest-tenured employee.
In 2021 Sipes traveled back to Williamsburg, Virginia, to participate in the organization’s 50th anniversary celebrations, joining with his two successors in the NCSC President’s office—Roger K. Warren and Mary McQueen—on a panel that reflected on the organization’s fifty years of growth.