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Published on April 15th, 2013

Don Backe was a teacher. Not just on a sailboat, where the Annapolis man made a name for himself in recent years. Not just in the classroom, where he spent decades educating young students.

Backe taught people about perseverance, despite using a wheelchair since 1987, when a violent car crash robbed him of his ability to walk.

“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.”

Backe died Friday (Apr 12) at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia after a prolonged illness. He was 77.

Not long after his accident, Backe returned to his lifelong passion of sailing. And he made it a mission to inspire others with disabilities to do the same.

In 1991, Backe founded Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, or CRAB. The nonprofit organization provided opportunities for physically and developmentally challenged individuals, and for people who otherwise couldn’t afford it, to boat on the waters of Chesapeake Bay. – Capital Gazette, read on

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