NLADA Mourns the Passing of Antone “Gerry” Singsen

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Release Date: 
Thursday, April 18, 2024

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association joins the legal community in mourning the loss of Antone “Gerry” Singsen. Mr. Singsen died March 4, and on that day, the civil legal aid community lost a giant. A memorial service to celebrate Gerry’s extraordinary life was held Saturday, March 16. Countless advocates joined the livestream.  

Mr. Singsen lived a life committed to serving others. For more than 50 years, he was a national advocate for civil legal aid for people living in poverty. His obituary, published in the Boston Globe, accurately described Singsen as a “leader, a visionary, a strategist, a mentor and a doer, who valued excellence, integrity, collaboration and change in service of our country's most marginalized and needy.” 

“Gerry’s passing is a great time of mourning for both our advocates in civil legal aid and client communities. We are honored to have known him and to have been among the countless people whose lives he brightened not just through his work, but through his presence,” noted April Frazier Camara, NLADA’s president & CEO. 

Advocates across the country remember Singsen for his stellar advocacy, through litigation to defend the rights and lives of those most marginalized and too-often overlooked; through the establishment and defense of the Legal Services Corporation, and in-turn, of its grantees; and through his work to expand resources to ensure civil legal aid was accessible and effective. Most of all, he is remembered for his kindness. 

In 2012, Mr. Singsen received NLADA’s Denison Ray Award for his lifetime of service to advancing equal justice. Colleagues in the civil legal aid community recalled his impact on civil legal aid, noting, “Gerry was one of that first generation of Poverty Warriors who helped shape our national community in many profound ways,” and referred to him as “a giant,” and “exemplary leader.”  

His service to the community broader than this. He was a friendly face, advisor, and mentor to just about anyone in the community anytime and anywhere he was needed, and we celebrate his life not just as one of service, but of friendship. During his memorial service, Will Ogburn recalled a room in which hundreds and hundreds of people proudly acknowledged how Singsen had touched them in some way, “It was a sea of hands in a sea of people. It was breathtaking. People were in awe. It was the ultimate testament to the kind and caring and nurturing and unselfish man that Gerry always was.” 

The community shares countless memories of the varied ways in which Singsen supported their work, always there to help, but also of his humor and kindness. “Gerry had a way of inspiring you just through his presence,” recalled Radhika Singh, NLADA’s vice president of civil legal services and strategic policy initiatives, “he received the Denny award when I was attending my second NLADA conference and remember thinking, what a giant!, but despite being so smart and so accomplished, he just was so kind and supportive. To me, he embodied the essence of civil legal aid.” 

NLADA sends its deepest sympathies to Mr. Singsen’s wife, Jane Tyrrell, and to his family, and to the Massachusetts legal aid community and everyone across the country whose lives – countless lives – he touched.