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Fairfield County Officials Pay Tribute To Soundkeeper Terry Backer

State Rep. Terry Backer of Stratford died Monday night
State Rep. Terry Backer of Stratford died Monday night Photo Credit: Connecticut House Democrats

STRATFORD, Conn. -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has ordered that Connecticut state flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of the passing of State Rep. Terry Backer of Stratford.

Backer died Monday night of complications from brain cancer. First elected to the state House of Representatives in 1992, the Democrat was re-elected 11 times to represent the 121st District. He was best known as one of the founders of the Long Island Soundkeeper Fund and his work for many decades to improve Long Island Sound.

“Terry Backer will always be remembered at the State Capitol as a larger than life crusader who was passionate about Stratford, unwavering in his love of Long Island Sound, and deeply dedicated to his lifelong mission to preserve the waterways for future generations," said Malloy. "He had profound impact on the state's environmental and energy policies. The State of Connecticut will forever remember him as the Keeper of the Sound.”

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said, “It was an honor and a privilege to have served in the House of Representatives with Terry. He was a tremendous example of dedication – his environmental leadership united both sides of the aisle in the common goal to enjoy and preserve Connecticut’s many natural resources. He leaves a broad legacy of protection for Long Island Sound and Connecticut’s ecosystem – generations to come will benefit from his work and his passion.

“I count myself among those who fight a little harder for the health of Connecticut’s waterways because I knew Terry Backer, Connecticut’s one and only Soundkeeper, and didn’t want to disappoint him," said Sen. Chris Murphy. "His passion for the water, honed by the side of his father as they harvested shellfish for a living for decades, matured as he took on the official role as the state’s chief spokesman for Long Island Sound."

“Terry made everyone around him understand that Connecticut’s economy and its cultural character were intimately tied to the health of Long Island Sound and the rivers and streams that flow into it," Murphy continued. "In large part because of Terry’s urging, Connecticut set upon an aggressive course of cleaning up the sewage treatment plants that allowed dirty water to flow into the Sound. Today, the water in and around our state is cleaner than ever – few beaches are closed every year and fish are returning to rivers that were barren of life for decades."

"For over two decades, Representative Backer became one of the most beloved and colorful characters of the General Assembly. His trademark denim attire reminded us he was never a traditional suit and tie guy, and that endearing image added perspective to every debate," said House Speaker Brendan Sharkey. "Even as he battled for his life, Representative Backer made it to the Capitol to fight for his constituents and for what he believed was right. I am lucky to have known Terry as our friendship developed over the years. He was truly one of those special people who figured out how to give back more than you take in a lifetime."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, “Terry Backer was one of a kind – a fearless fighter for Long Island Sound, an effervescent raconteur and a warm and deeply generous friend. Terry had a big heart – a relentless love for everything that exists and lives on the planet and a tireless devotion to public service and the people of Stratford and Connecticut. I will remember him and his legacy in the beauty of the Sound.”

State of Connecticut flags will remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of his interment, the date of which has not yet been determined.

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