Terry Backer

August 3, 1954 - December 14, 2015

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Stratford Democrats Celebrates the Life of Terry Backer

State Representative from the 121st District.

We lost Terry Backer at 61, the son of a fisherman.  Terry, will leave as his legacy, Connecticut and Stratford’s only “Soundkeeper”.  Terry was an environmental maverick -- a defender of Long Island Sound and its shores.  His enormous bequest?  Our Town, Our State and Our Nation a cleaner, safer, and healthier Long Island Sound.

No one will argue that Terry did more than any politician to protect the Sound.  Known for his outspoken defense and hard work on behalf of the Environment, Terry remained a careful steward of the needs of the 121s district and a friend who faced life bravely and with optimism despite a long battle with cancer.  We all admired his bravery and his constant dedication to the Environmental needs of our State.  Such was his dedication that Governor Malloy ordered the State’s flags flown at half-mast in celebration of our friend’s life.

Born in Stamford in, 1954, Backer attended Norwalk public schools and later earned a license as a Merchant Marine officer from the United States Coast Guard. Backer worked with his father, Henry Backer, for decades, harvesting lobsters and shellfish in the Southwestern Sound.  Those experiences led to a life of dedication to the health of that body of water.

First elected in 1992, Terry represented the South End of Stratford, including the Lordship neighborhood where he lived. He won re-election in 2010, 2012 and 2014.  Terry was the former chairman of Connecticut’s Environment Committee, as well as the Energy & Technology Committee. He led the Soundkeeper Fund for 27 years joining with fellow activists including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of Bobby Kennedy.  Robert F. Kennedy Jr was president of the board of Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit focused on grass-roots efforts to protect and enhance waterways around the world, He was Terry’s close friend.

But for those of us who knew Terry, we also knew he shunned fame – he was dedicated to every form of environmental health including the operation of The Farm in Stratford, insisting that the Farm be organic and avoid the use of pesticides to prevent those poisons from pouring into Long Island Sound.  He championed the development of aquaculture in the Sound and was often pictured on a boat, or with oysters and crabs, a testament to his resolve and achievement.

He was a sincere and honest man, humble but determined.  We Democrats will miss him, but we will always celebrate a life that was well lived, a life that achieved a lasting legacy.

Terry is survived by his mother, Catherine Lagana Backer of Norwalk; two sons, Luke Backer of Stratford and Jacob Henry Backer of Bristol; a brother James J. Backer and wife Diana of Groton; two sisters, Kathleen A. Patchen and husband Richard of Weston, Cheryl B. McNeil and her husband Kevin of Norwalk; the mother of his children, Mary McNeil Backer; his former wife & friend, Monica Anton Backer; nieces and nephews, Jessica Backer, Victorial Backer Smith, Christopher Patchen, Tracie Patchen Wain, Barbara Patchen Hayes, Adam Backer, Megan & Mackenzie McNeil; great nieces and nephews, Kyle & Delshaun Backer, Julia & Jessica Patchen, Madison & Gabby Hayes, Isabelle & Oliver Wain. He was predeceased by a niece, Arian Rose Backer.

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commented 2015-12-15 21:25:48 -0500 · Flag
To say my heart is heavy would be an understatement. Here was a man who never had an unkind word to say of anyone. I can think of no other leader in our state who has done more for so many and with such little concern for his own well-being and health. He was entirely selfless and truly dedicated to his Town of Stratford, the sound that he loved to protect and the people he represented.
published this page in News 2015-12-15 21:09:25 -0500
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