DNR Disability Advisory Council Member Dies at 77
Longtime and esteemed DNR Disability Advisory Council Member Donald E. Backe passed away on April 12. He served the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as a volunteer, subject-matter expert on disability, accessibility, and boating and recreation for more than 20 years.
In 1991, Backe became the founding executive director of Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), a nonprofit organization based out of Sandy Point which helps those with physical and developmental handicaps to set sail on the Chesapeake Bay. A car crash in 1987 rendered him physically disabled and in a wheelchair. Backe’s love of the great outdoors led him on a mission to help others with disabilities have access to outside recreation.
Through focus and hard work he became a motivational figure who taught and provided others with the joy of accessible boating and recreation. He also served as DNR Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator during the 1990s.
In January of 2013, Backe earned the U.S. Sailing Foundation’s 2012 Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award for his great work on behalf of CRAB and people with disabilities.
More information on Backe’s Homegoing-Memorial Service will be released as it is scheduled. Expressions of sympathy and condolence may be sent to: Mrs. Lyn Backe, 703 Melrose Street, Annapolis, MD, 21401.
A videotape of Backe’s DNR National Disability Employment Awareness Month presentation is available at dnr.maryland.gov/ofp, at the bottom of the page. More infrmation on Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating is located at crabsailing.org.