Dr. Ralph V. Backman, prominent Utah educator and loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died at home Saturday March 28, 1992.
He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 4, 1904 to Gustave H. and Grace Pollard Backman. He earned his BA degree in Sociology in 1926 at the University of Utah, and was a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity. He was awarded a MA degree in Philosophy from Stanford University in 1935 and an Ed.D. degree from the University of Utah in 1960. He did additional graduate work at the University of Utah, Stanford University, and Utah State University.His long and illustrious career in public and higher education began as a social science teacher and coach at the Irving Junior High School and South High School from 1927 to 1932 during which time he was instrumental in introducing the first psychology courses in high school programs in Utah. From 1932 to 1937, he was the Dean of Boys at South High School and one of the first male counselors for boys in the Salt Lake City school system. He was Director of Adult and Vocational Education for the Salt Lake City School District from 1938 to 1948. Following that, he served as Principal of South High School from 1948 to 1969 during which time he was committed to providing an educational program based on a philosophy of trust in the worth and basic goodness of the individual. From 1955 to 1968, he was a lecturer in Educational Administration at the University of Utah. He also designed and taught Philosophy of Education courses in their Department of Continuing Education. After his retirement from South High School, he joined the faculty and administration at Westminster College in 1970 where he served in various teaching and administrative positions including Professor of Education and, most recently, Special Assistant to the Academic Vice President. He retired from Westminster College in 1991.
During his career in education, he served in many leadership positions including President of the Salt Lake City Teachers Association, President of the Administrators and Supervisors Association, organizer and chairman of the State "A" Schools Principals Association. For several terms, he represented the high schools of the Salt Lake City area on the Board of State High School Activities Association and later served as a member of their Executive Board. He was also a member of Phi Delta Kappa, an organization of professional men in education. He has served on the national Board of Directors of the National Association for Mental Health and was a member of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors of the Utah Association for Mental Health. He was on the Board of Directors of the Salt Lake County Chapter of the American Red Cross, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the Utah March of Dimes Foundation.
During his lifetime, he was honored with numerous awards including the Westminster College Alumni Association Community Service Award, the March of Dimes Distinguished Voluntary Leadership Award, and the Mental Health Association of Utah Award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Mental Health. He was elected into the honorary scholastic society, Phi Kappa Phi, and most recently, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Westminster College in 1986.
He was a man who had great interest and love for all sports, particularly golf, which he played with enthusiasm for over 60 years.
He is survived by Grace McCullough Backman, Salt Lake City, his wife of over 64 years; three daughters and two sons, Joan B. Kirkham (and husband, Jim) of Clearfield, Ut., Carol B. Munro (and husband, Scott), Napa Valley Calif., Jill B. Jones (and husband, Earl) Salt Lake City, Mac Backman (and wife, Toshiko) Daly City, Calif., and Rod Backman of Seattle, Wash.; 11 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren; a brother, Milton V. Backman, Salt Lake City; and two sisters, Lucille Glade, Ogden, Ut. and Edna Schofield, Tempe, Ariz. He was preceded in death by four brothers, Melvin Backman, Harold Backman, Gus Backman, LeGrand Backman.
Ralph Backman was a committed and enthusiastic teacher and administrator who loved his profession. He believed in the principles of democratic and public education and spent his professional life in public and higher education helping to create a learning environment in which these principles could be more fully realized. His philosophy of education was "Interest begets effort and effort begets interest." He will be missed by all whose lives he touched.
Memorial services will be held Thursday afternoon, at Jewett Hall, Westminster College, 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Youth Village, Salt Lake City, Ut
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