In Memoriam: Richard C. Back
Richard C. Back, 91, died peacefully March 31, 2013, at the Masonic Care Community in Utica, NY, with his family at his side. Richard had previously resided in Irvington, NY, Washington, DC, Jacksonville, FL, and Raleigh, NC.
Son of Clara Winifred Newcomb and Ernest Adna Back, Richard was born in Washington, DC, October 20, 1921. While growing up in the nation's capital, Richard attended public schools and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. He also attended Cleveland Park Congregational Church, and was an Eagle Scout.
Richard attended Cornell University for his bachelor's degree in entomology, and was a member of the ??? fraternity. He served for three years in the South Pacific during World War II in the US Navy Reserves as a pharmacist's mate aboard the USS Boötes AK-99, receiving a Battle Star in December 1944. He continued his Naval service after the war as a medical entomologist in NC and FL, and received his commission as an Ensign, and subsequent appointment as Lieutenant, prior to his honorable discharge. He then returned to the formal study of entomology and insect toxicology, first earning an MS from Iowa State in 1948, and a PhD from Cornell University in 1951.
In a professional career that spanned thirty-five years, Dr. Back worked as an entomologist developing and registering agricultural products first for the Ethyl Corporation at the Boyce Thompson Institute, and then for the Union Carbide Corporation. In recognition of his long service to the latter, he was named a Corporate Development Fellow in 1974. Richard travelled widely for his work, including approximately 800 trips to 49 states and 25 foreign countries. He was an active member of several professional societies, including the Entomological Society of America, and was a member of the Cosmos Club of Washington, DC. His long service to the National Agricultural Chemical Association, and his efforts to chair its Regulatory Committee, were recognized with his award of "Outstanding Contributor" in 1973. Richard also served on a variety of international committees seeking standards for controls on pesticides in North and South America, Europe and Africa.
Away from work, Dick enjoyed gardening, walking, fishing photography and stamp collecting. He volunteered his time to the Boy Scouts, the Irvington (NY) Presbyterian Church, various PTA's, and the Men's Garden Club of Wake County, NC. He was a Master Gardener in the Men’s Garden Club of America. An avid naturalist, he enjoyed sharing trips with his children and grandchildren to zoos, museums, and the North Carolina Coast.
Richard was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Laura Anne Heffelfinger Back. He is survived by his four children: Diane (Tim) Burns of Rome, NY, Barbara (John) Loftus of Hollywood, MD, Janice Norton of Maryland, NY, and Richard (Inga) Back II of Oswego, NY. Richard was very proud of his seven grandchildren: Anne and Terry Burns, Kate and Greg Norton, Nick, Thomas and Clara Back. Most recently, he much enjoyed the addition to the family of a great-granddaughter Carly Norton.
Following cremation, a memorial service will be held in Irvington, NY, at the family's discretion. Local arrangements are being entrusted to Strong-Burns and Sprock Funeral Home, Rome, NY. Richard's family would like to express their deep appreciation to the medical team and staff at the Masonic Care Community for their care and compassion.