Eleanor R. Backman, 103, passed away peacefully at home on June 26, 2022. The daughter of Dr. John J. and Alma Mann, she was born November 3, 1918, at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., where her father, an ENT and eye surgeon, had been stationed to train medical interns for overseas military service during WWI.
Eleanor spent most of her childhood years in Perth Amboy, NJ, where her father conducted his medical practice. From an early age she displayed an unquenchable thirst for reading and excelled in school. Valedictorian of her class at Low Heywood School for Girls (CT), she graduated from Smith College (MA) with majors in English, history, and philosophy. Later she earned a master’s degree with honors in English and Education at Rutgers U. (NJ), where she studied under acclaimed author, poet, and literary critic, John Ciardi.
Her contagious love of literature, poetry, and creative writing impacted countless students throughout her teaching career in Miami, FL: first at the Everglades School for Girls, and then, following a merger, at the coed Ransom-Everglades School, where she also served as chair of the English Department. Upon her retirement the school designated her an Honorary Alumna, and the annual award for Excellence in English is still given in her name, 40 years later.
In addition to her parents, Eleanor was preceded in death by husbands Charles Eckel, Paul Crawford, and Herbert Backman; sister, Gertrude Lukens; and son, Edmund I. Eckel. She is survived by sons John Laurence Eckel (Susan) of Indianapolis and C. Ronald Eckel of West Hartford, CT; grandchildren Peter Eckel of Indianapolis and Nancy Eckel Foushee (Eric) of Brunswick, ME; great-grandchildren: Connor, Martha, Lane, and Asher Foushee; and nephews Terence Lukens (Anne) of Bellevue, WA, and John Lukens (Deborah) of East Greenwich, RI.
Eleanor was devoted to her family, students, friends, and church. All who knew her rejoiced in her kind, loving, and gracious manner. She will be deeply missed. The family extends their gratitude for two decades of outstanding medical care to Ingrid Mason, M.D., and her staff; for over a decade of home health assistance to the wonderful caregivers of Senior1 Care; and most recently to the staff of Paradigm Health for their exceptional hospice care. Memorial contributions may be made to First Congregational Church UCC, 7171 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46240, where a memorial service will be held in the coming weeks. Final arrangements have been entrusted to Indiana Funeral Care.
A memorial service will be held at First Congregational Church, 7171 N Pennsylvania Street at 5 PM on Sunday, July 31.