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Thomas Anthony Backal

Thomas Anthony Backal (“Pops”), age 70, died peacefully in his sleep on August 30, 2017 in Lampe, Missouri.

He was born to Edward and Anna Backal on March 18, 1947 and raised in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Upon graduation from high school in 1966 and due to his love of the water, he joined the U.S. Navy. After completion of boot camp, he requested duty at Camp Pendleton, California in the U.S. Marine base hospital. One of the many opportunities as a Navy medic is to work in direct support of the Marine Corp on a voluntary basis…as a result of his decision, he was assigned to a Marine Corp regiment and deployed to Vietnam as a Navy Corpsman in 1966. In his capacity as a Navy Corpsman assigned to a Marine Corps unit, he received the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Tom’s military file includes the following, “Tom’s fast thinking saved the life of a Marine, who suffered a crushed throat when his Jeep was demolished by a land mine. Tom cut into the Marine’s throat and inserted a plastic tube (a straw) which saved the Marine’s life. For this heroic act, he was promoted to a Petty Officer (Third Class) and received a medal.” Because Tom sustained an injury during this act of courage, Tom received his second Purple Heart medal. Since this was the second Purple Heart he received, and due to the injuries he sustained, Tom received an early honorable discharge on April 16, 1968. He served the remainder of his enlistment at the Naval Station Great Lakes and ultimately left the service of our country in May 1972.

Service Medal with two Bronze Stars and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Tom’s military file includes the following, “Tom’s fast thinking saved the life of a Marine, who suffered a crushed throat when his Jeep was demolished by a land mine. Tom cut into the Marine’s throat and inserted a plastic tube (a straw) which saved the Marine’s life. For this heroic act, he was promoted to a Petty Officer (Third Class) and received a medal.” Because Tom sustained an injury during this act of courage, Tom received his second Purple Heart medal. Since this was the second Purple Heart he received, and due to the injuries he sustained, Tom received an early honorable discharge on April 16, 1968. He served the remainder of his enlistment at the Naval Station Great Lakes and ultimately left the service of our country in May 1972.

Upon returning home, Tom married his childhood sweetheart, Elaine Marie Koblosh. The two met at church in 1956 on the playground and would be married for 33 years. They had two children, Thomas Paul Backal and Tracey Lynn Allen. To support his family, Tom worked as a time and efficiency expert at Hendrickson Motor Truck Company in Chicago, Illinois. In early 1978, Tom and Elaine came to the realization that Chicago was not the place they wished to raise their children and moved to Dallas where Tom secured employment at Marmon Motor Company as a material planner, later taking on an additional role with a sister company, Space Corporation. While Tom enjoyed his work, his passion for building things eventually overtook him. After several years of building a foundation to transition his passion of building aquariums and working with tropical fish, Tom started his own company, Aquarium Warehouse. Over the next 15+ years Tom would design and construct aquariums for professional athletes, Las Alamos Nuclear research facility and Bass Pro Shops. It was his last project for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that became his favorite. Tom was contracted by Woods Hole in conjunction with NASA to build 26 acrylic enclosures to send to the International Space Station to study the effects of weightlessness on tadpoles.

During this time, Tom’s wife Elaine was courageously battling cancer. In early 2000, Tom decided to sell his interest in Aquarium Warehouse and find something that would allow him to spend more time with his wife. Tragically, Elaine passed away in 2002, following 33 years of marriage and a 5 year battle with colon cancer. Prior to Elaine’s death the couple purchased a Carver motor-yacht. The boat was

christened the Mystic Lady and berthed at Eisenhower Yacht Club on Lake Texoma. After her passing, Tom went to find comfort in a place he had always felt at peace, the water. The “Lady” as Tom would call her would be his home away from home for the next several months providing him not only a place to draw closure to one chapter of his life but an opportunity to begin a new chapter. It would be during his time aboard the Lady that he would find the woman he would spend the rest of his life with. Through a mutual friend in the boathouse where the Lady was kept, Tom met Kathy Whitman. The two quickly became the best of friends and while neither can tell the exact moment their relationship changed, they joined households in 2003 in Dallas, Texas.

With a love of wide open spaces and fresh air, Tom and Kathy sought to leave the hustle and bustle of city life and, in November 2005, purchased Heritage Ranch Bed and Breakfast in Lampe, Missouri. For the next 6 years they commuted weekly preparing for their eventual retirement to the property. Tom retired first in 2011 and Kathy followed a year later. They were married in Angel Fire, New Mexico in December of 2016.

In addition to his wife Elaine and his parents, his brother Edward Backal preceded him in death. Tom is survived by his son Tom Backal, daughter Tracy Allen, step-daughter Mica Petersen and her husband Paul, step-daughter Kim Moncibais as well as 8 grandchildren Brandon and Tiffany Allen, Rigney, Phillip, Mary Clare and Pike Peterson and Bailey and Cam Moncibais. The family would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Tommy Pate for his loving care and friendship.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 12:30 PM at the Wildwood Chapel inside of Restland Cemetery. Tom’s son, Thomas Paul Backal will officiate the memorial. Immediately following the Celebration there will be a graveside ceremony with military honors officiated by Judge John Payton. Pops was a true role model, an inspiration to most, a father figure to many and a friend to all he met.

Celebration of Life
October 14, 2017
12:30 pm
The Wildwood Chapel at Restland Memorial Park
13005 Greenville Ave dallas TX, 75243
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