Don Backe, who founded Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating to bring boating access to people with disabilities, died Friday at Gilchrest Hospice Care in Columbia, Md., after a prolonged illness. He was 77.
Backe was a teacher — not just on a sailboat, where the Annapolis man made a name for himself in recent years, and not just in the classroom, where he spent decades educating young students.
Backe, who used a wheelchair since 1987, when a car crash robbed him of his ability to walk, taught lessons in perseverance, friends and family said Saturday.
"He was an inspirational figure because he never stopped," said Angus Phillips, who knew Backe for more than a decade. "He got in that terrible accident and a lot of people would have curled up and gave up, but a lot of his achievements came after that. He was indefatigable."
Earlier this year, Backe was given the Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award for making significant contributions to his local sailing community.