Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Carmen von Arend Backman

Carmen Backman, who recently moved to Idaho from Arizona, died on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, at Blaine Manor in Hailey, Idaho, from complications related to congestive heart failure. Her final hours were peaceful ones.

Carmen led a joyous and meaningful life enriched by the lives of her four children and three grandchildren, the close friendships she nurtured, her world travel and her conviction that happiness is derived from always endeavoring to give more than one is given.

Carmen was born on June 19, 1927, in the Philippines, the daughter of two expatriates—a father from Hamburg, Germany, and a mother from Barcelona, Spain. She was the youngest among three sisters and two brothers. Her first language was German, then Spanish; she mastered English when she attended the American School in Manila. She came of age surviving World War II in Manila, the end of which found her and the small German community hiding from the Japanese as they burned the city that was called "the pearl of the Orient" while retreating from the advancing American army.

Carmen met her husband, John, of Frederick, S.D., shortly after the war when he came to Manila to start his career with IBM's Far East division. They married in 1948, had two children and in 1951 were transferred to Bombay, India, for six years, where a third child was born. Then it was back to Manila where the fourth child was born.

Travel to Europe and the United States, and living in the Far East during the 1950s and 1960s, added an appreciation and understanding of other cultures to an already busy life for Carmen as she raised her children, studied interior decoration and volunteered for Catholic and other charitable services. In 1963, the family was transferred to IBM's home office in Westchester County, N.Y.; another brief term in Manila followed. In the 1970s, John took early retirement and the family, minus two college-age children, moved to the south of Spain, where Carmen was near her own mother and siblings again.

Carmen and John moved back to the U.S. in 1993, settling eventually in Green Valley, Ariz. Carmen was active in P.E.O., she also played bridge and Mah-jongg regularly. She derived the most gratification from volunteering at the White Elephant thrift shop.

Carmen is survived by her three daughters, Evelyn Phillips of Hailey, Idaho, Tinka Raymond of Oaxaca, Mexico, and Tona Backman-Stilwill of Fairfield, Idaho; her son, John, of Marblehead, Mass.; and her three grandchildren, J.T. Phillips, and Edward and Warren Backman.

A Mass dedicated to Carmen was held at St. Charles Church in Hailey on Sunday, Jan. 24. A memorial to celebrate her life with her family and many loving friends will be held in Hailey later this spring.

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