April 19, 2013 - It is with deep sadness that we at Old Pulteney report that Donald Backe, winner of the inaugural Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award, passed away on Friday, April 12, 2013. Our sincerest condolences go out to Donald’s wife Lyn, his family, and the many whom Don served, especially persons with disabilities and volunteers of Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB).
Don was the founder and heart of CRAB. From his own experience of the joy of sailing, he showed that disability was no hindrance to leading a vigorous, athletic life, fully engaged in one's work and community.
Perseverance was most evident in how Don dealt with infections and debilities in his final years. He never gave up even when facing hopeless odds, always maintaining a spirit of optimism, quiet courage and graciousness towards others. The strength Don showed in facing his final journey is the very quality that the Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award recognizes. We could not think of a more deserving recipient for our 2012 Maritime Heroes Award and feel privileged to have known Donald for the brief time that we did.
Donald Backe Continues to Give Back After Winning the Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award
Don Backe is currently in a rehabilitation and nursing care facility, recovering from infections, however, his spirit is indomitable and he continues to inspire individuals with his enthusiasm for sailing and continuing commitment to getting persons with disabilities out sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. His love of sailing has encouraged his roommates and even the nursing staff to come sail with C.R.A.B. (Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating).
The day Don heard that he received the Maritime Heroes Award, remarkably, his health improved significantly. He expressed as much surprise as pride at being given such a prestigious award. It was also quite supportive that many of Don’s friends wrote and phoned to congratulate him on receiving the award.
Don wanted C.R.A.B. to focus outreach to military service personnel who are receiving treatment or are in rehab within the Annapolis area. Several years ago, he started the C.R.A.B. Wounded Warrior Program and it is getting a good gust of wind in its “sails” this year. C.R.A.B. is working with the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis to invite Wounded Warriors to sail in the community. This summer, C.R.A.B. will offer a half-dozen sailing and racing events with Wounded Warriors, sailing out of C.R.A.B.’s docks at Sandy Point.
Like every summer for the past 22 years since Don founded C.R.A.B., the organization will continue to provide sailing opportunities to hundreds of persons with disabilities in the Chesapeake Area through events with non-profits including the Maryland School for the Blind, The Benedictine School, and more, and for individuals, especially those who attend C.R.A.B.’s monthly Sailfree sails.
Don Backe of Annapolis, Maryland, was selected by public vote as the winner of the inaugural Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award. He was honored at US Sailing’s 2013 National Sailing Programs Symposium in Clearwater, Florida in January.
It was a wonderful evening celebrating individuals who contribute the vitality of the sport through community sailing efforts and volunteerism. Old Pulteney has a long standing association with the sea and it’s important to us to celebrate those individuals who significantly contribute to the vibrancy of the maritime lifestyle. That’s why we developed the Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award - to recognize those sailors who have made humanitarian contributions to their sailing community.
Don was nominated by a member of his sailing community for creating the Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (C.R.A.B) organization whose mission is to inspire and teach the disabled to sail. Don founded C.R.A.B in 1991 so that sailing could be experienced by physically and mentally challenged individuals, as well as those who aren’t able to participate in the sport for financial reasons. Because of Don’s tenacity and will, C.R.A.B. has evolved into a four-sailboat fleet, home ported at Sandy Point State Park outside Annapolis.
Tom Hubble, president of US Sailing and Brian Johnson, regional vice president for International Beverage presented the award to Don’s wife, Lyn Backe, who accepted the award on his behalf. To learn more about Don Backe and Chesapeake Regional Accessible Boating programs, please visit http://crabsailing.org/.
Please check back here or follow Old Pulteney on Facebook for updates on the 2012 Maritime Hero, Old Pulteney tasting events with US Sailing and for the chance to nominate someone for the 2013 Maritime Heroes Award!
Old Pulteney is the official scotch of US Sailing and is known as “The Maritime Malt.” The whisky’s carefully crafted taste carries the windswept and rugged character of the North, the salty and fresh air of the North Sea and the distillery’s rich seafaring heritage. The Old Pulteney distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland and operates in Wick, on the North coast of the Scottish mainland.
Our Maritime Heritage
Old Pulteney was founded in 1826 and is crafted at the Pulteney Distillery in Wick, Scotland. The distillery is located in the very far north of Scotland, by Wick's historic harbor, which was known for the barrels of silver (herring) and gold (whisky) which left the port in vast numbers during the 1800's, at a time when road links to the town were not established. To this day, Old Pulteney matures its fine whisky in hand-selected oak casks, slowly capturing the unique character of this stunning landscape with its long seafaring history. The brand has a long standing association with the sea and is known as the Genuine Maritime Malt. Through its partnership with US Sailing, Old Pulteney has the opportunity to share its rich heritage and fine expressions with the adult sailing community in the United States.
About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.