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Soundkeeper Terry Backer, 61, Stratford Resident, State Lawmaker

Terry Backer
Terry Backer Photo Credit: Deborah Burnley

STRATFORD, Conn. -- Terry Backer, 61, a career Long Island Sound fisherman and veteran state lawmaker who won national renown as the state's first and only Soundkeeper, died Tuesday.

The son of a fisherman, the late Henry J. Backer, Terry Backer was the former chairman of the legislative 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., senior attorney and president of the board of Waterkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit focused on grassroots efforts to protect and enhance waterways around the world, whom he befriended.

Backer was first elected in 1992, representing the South End of Stratford, including the Lordship neighborhood, where he lived. He won re-election in 2010, 2012 and 2014 while fighting a brain tumor.

Born in Stamford on Aug. 3, 1954, Backer attended Norwalk public schools and later earned a license as a Merchant Marine officer from the U.S. Coast Guard.

He 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; and two sisters, Kathleen A. Patchen and husband Richard of Weston, and Cheryl B. McNeil and husband Kevin of Norwalk.

He is also survived by the mother of his children, Mary McNeil Backer; his former wife and friend, Monica Anton Backer; nieces and nephews, Jessica Backer, Victorial Backer Smith, Christopher Patchen, Tracie Patchen Wain, Barbara Patchen Hayes, Adam Backer, Megan and Mackenzie McNeil; and great-nieces and great-nephews, Kyle and Delshaun Backer, Julia and Jessica Patchen, Madison and Gabby Hayes and Isabelle and Oliver Wain.

He was predeceased by a niece, Arian Rose Backer.

Friends are invited to greet the family on Thursday, Dec. 17, from 4-8 p.m. at Norwalk's Hoyt-Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory, 5 E. Wall St.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, Dec. 18, at 10 a.m. at St. Matthew's Church, 216 Scribner Ave., Norwalk. Interment will be private.

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