Edna (Nee Scalley) O’Brien Backe entered her eternal home on February 5, 2024. She was born to William Scalley and Edna (n. Derby) on October 4, 1934, in the N.W. (Van Cortland) section of the Bronx, NYC. She spent all of her very happy young life there attending Visitation and Sacred Heart of Mary schools. It was there that she met her future first husband (Jack O’Brien), her best friend and bridesmaid Eileen McLaughlin and another best friend Dick Backe.
Edna, Jack, Eileen and Dick all got married in 1955 and started raising large families, Eight O’ Brien’s and six Backe’s while remaining close friends and neighbors in the Bronx and then Long Island.
Jack was an educator, in the vanguard of programs to normalize teaching children with disabilities. In that he was fully supported by Edna since their 2cnd son Bill had C.P. and led a full life for 35 years. Jack’s job moved them from cold (NYC and upstate NY) to colder (Michigan) to coldest Iowa), until they surrendered and moved to Florida in 1982.
Just before leaving Iowa, Edna got her RN and AA degree in nursing. On arrival in Florida, she started work in a hospital, continued studies and received her BS in nursing in 1987. Loving to work with elderly patients, she started in a home health agency, and within few years was director of the business.
Tragedy struck in 1995 when Jack died from cancer, ending the 40-year adventure that was their special marriage. After a few more years as a PRN nurse, and volunteering to assist children as a guardian ad litum, she left for the “Boonies” of Kentucky (literally Booneville, KY) to assist the hardscrabble poor as a volunteer in the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP).
In 1999, at age 65 when most are retiring, she sold her house and belongings and applied for a PEACE CORPS assignment. After a bit of a struggle (and a crash course in Spanish) she was assigned to a jungle village in the Dominican Republic … one of the oldest serving with youngsters less than half her age. Returning to the States she re-upped with CAP until she was accepted in an AMERICORP project as a nurse on the Navaho Indian reservation in Arizona.
Ending that tour, she returned to Boonville and CAP. Through what must be
acknowledged as a miracle under the intercessaton of Jack and Eileen (RIP), she reconnected with Dick Backe, visited Gettysburg, and married a guy she knew for over 60 years (since age 11).
Dick and Edna were married in SFX Mercy Chapel in 2007. Edna threw herself into Works of Mercy in her new home. Driving elderly to appointments as part of ACOA, visiting nursing homes and bringing communion as an SFX minister, visiting the prisons bringing the Good Word, feeding the needy as a volunteer Meals-on-Wheels and worker in the Gettysburg Soup Kitchen.
There was not a task that Jesus asked us to do that Edna didn’t do with an infectious smile and gusto.
Edna was preceded in death by her parents and three of her sons: Peter, Bill and Timothy. She leaves behind her daughter Susan (m. Ronn Cypher) and sons John O’Brien, Steve (m. Jill), Mark (m. Maria), Matt (m. Amy). She was beloved by inherited step-sons: Rich, Kevin, Brian, Dennis, Mike, Pete and their spouses.
Edna has over 60 children, step-children grandchildren, great g-kids and spouses thereof who will all miss her smile and joyful life but rejoice in her peaceful retreat to the Father’s home
Professional services are being provided by Monahan’s Funeral Home, Gettysburg, online condolences may be made at monahanfuneralhome.com. A Funeral Mass will be held 11:00 AM, Saturday February 17, 2024 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 25 West High St., Gettysburg, PA. The family will greet visitors one hour prior to Mass at the church.
25 West High Street
Gettyburg, PA 17325
25 West High Street
Gettyburg, PA 17325
West High Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325