Joseph Backfield, 87, of Williamsburg died on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, at Cannon Memorial Hospital in South Carolina.
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He was born Feb. 12, 1923, in Brooklyn, N.Y. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 he enlisted in the Marines and served in the Pacific Theater of World War II as a member of the 3rd Marine Division. He saw action in the islands, including Guam, Guadalcanal, Chichi Jima, Bouganville, and Iwo Jima.
After the war he enlisted in the Army, serving in postwar Europe and in Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star. He retired from the military in 1968 as a sergeant first class.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Anna and Aaron Barpel (names changed on arrival at Ellis Island in 1922); his brother, Isidore Backfield; and his first wife, Erika Backfield of Hampton.
He is survived by his sister, Eleanor Snyder of Philadelphia, Pa.; his second wife, Betty Backfield; his eight children: Fred Backfield, Mike Backfield, Ruth Myers, Sam Backfield, Liz Lentz, Tony Xhema, Aziza Stansberry and Ellen Barren; 24 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
He had a lifelong passion for baseball and always longed for the return of Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and he will be missed dearly.
His burial service was on Jan. 16, and was handled by Parklawn Wood Funeral Home in Hampton.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Jewish National Fund (www.jnf.org).
Published in Virginia Gazette from Jan. 19 to Feb. 19, 2011