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July 29, 2020

In Memoriam—Timothy D. Backstrom

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

We write to share the sad news that our friend and colleague Timothy D. Backstrom died on Friday, July 24, 2020.  For those clients and colleagues who were fortunate to have known or worked with Tim, you will appreciate the enormous void his untimely demise has left. Tim’s prodigious intellect, his encyclopedic understanding of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), his contributions to the law and regulation of fuel and fuel additives under the Clean Air Act (CAA), and his passion for the law and the rule of law were very much a part of Tim’s many contributions to the legal profession.  Tim was an incredibly gifted lawyer, respected by his peers, loved by his fellow colleagues here at Bergeson & Campbell, P.C., and a wonderful man, husband, and father.  He is survived by his wife Lydia Cox Backstrom, his (step) son Christopher Blancato, his brother Paul Backstrom (Kathy), and his cousins Dan and Don Backstrom.

Tim grew up in Illinois and later Wisconsin, but his strong academic and analytic skills took him East where he received an undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1973. From there he went on to Yale Law School, graduating in 1979.  Tim loved the outdoors and developed a particular fondness for rock climbing, which he pursued for most of his adult life. Perhaps combining his love of nature and the law, Tim worked for 25 years in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of General Counsel (OGC) on pesticide, toxic substances, and air quality issues.  Given Tim’s training as a scientist at MIT and his law degree, working for EPA gave full expression to his strong science and legal skills and love of nature.  It was while at EPA that Tim developed an expansive understanding of FIFRA, the highly nuanced federal law that regulates agricultural and biocidal chemicals.  Tim knew more about FIFRA law and lore than any person on Earth.  For those of us who worked with Tim, we appreciated that Tim was prepared to discuss, at any time, the most obscure aspect of FIFRA law or regulation, and loved every second of it.  Tim’s passion, intellect, and extraordinary ability to process large amounts of information and prepare beautifully written memoranda, legal briefs, and related documents made him a lawyer’s lawyer and his judgment and legal ability were greatly respected.

After leaving EPA’s OGC, Tim joined Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. early in 2007 and practiced extensively under FIFRA, the CAA, and related domestic chemical laws.  Tim was also an experienced litigator, and litigated extensively in federal appellate and multiple district courts.

Tim’s many friends and colleagues in the Washington, D.C., area and more recently in the Lake Tahoe, California, area will miss Tim greatly.  The legal community has lost a truly special lawyer who had a uniquely sophisticated understanding of FIFRA.  We will miss Tim’s uncompromising commitment to legal excellence, his passion for the law, his exuberance for any work composed by Gustav Mahler, and his unrelenting belief that the rule of law will ultimately prevail over the societal challenges we are now experiencing.