Monday, August 11, 2008

Bachman's Mourns a Beloved CEO

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

A memorial for Todd Bachman is in the lobby of the flagship Bachman's store on Lyndale Avenue in Richfield. Bachman and his wife Barbara were attacked in Beijing. He was killed and she remains hospitalized in China.

From the Strib:


Last update: August 11, 2008 - 5:34 AM

At Bachman's flagship store on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis Sunday, a giant array of flowers and a poster commemorating the life of Todd Bachman stopped customers as they walked in. Behind the memorial, the wall was lined with historic photos of the four generations of Bachmans that built their iconic Minnesota company.

"Now, sadly, this is part of our history, too," said Larry Pfarr, director of marketing, waving his hand at the poster and flowers. Bachman, 62, the company's chief executive, was stabbed to death in Beijing on Saturday, the first day of the Olympics, apparently at random.

His wife, Barbara, also was stabbed by the Chinese assailant, who committed suicide immediately after the attack. Initially in critical condition after undergoing eight hours of surgery, she was upgraded to stable condition this morning.

With the Farmington couple was their daughter, Elisabeth (Wiz) Bachman McCutcheon, 30, a 2004 Olympic volleyball player, former Lakeville High School standout and the wife of U.S. men's Olympic volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon. She was uninjured.

Todd Bachman was a few steps behind his wife and daughter when he was attacked by a man identified as Tang Yongming, 47 and unemployed. When Barbara heard Todd being attacked, she went to him and was also stabbed. Their assailant then leaped to his death from a balcony of the Drum Tower.

Todd Bachman was a great grandson of the immigrant German who in the late 1800s bought 4 acres in what is now south Minneapolis and started selling vegetables.

According to employees working Sunday, he was one of the most beloved of a long line of Bachmans who have continued to run the floral and garden centers. "I don't think that in 20 years I ever saw him mad," said Pfarr. "You could always go to him with anything, and he would always listen."

"He's been to Florida with us on buying trips," said Mierva, in charge of buying the company's annuals. "He's been with us traipsing through those broken-down greenhouses in the heat. He never played executive. He enjoyed it."

Jon Logue met Bachman while working at Department 56, a giftware company Bachman's started.

"He was always very interested in what you were doing," he said. "He was the first person to give you encouragement."

Sunday afternoon, shopper Alice Mauren, of Burnsville, stopped to read the memorial. "We come here a lot," she said.

"It's a tragedy for the business and the family," she said. "The people in Minnesota feel like this is a family member that this happened to."

Todd Bachman "was one of my closest friends,'' U.S. Olympic women's volleyball player Robyn Ah Mow-Santos said in Beijing. She was a teammate of Elisabeth Bachman in the 2004 Olympics. "I lost my mom in February, and [the Bachmans] were there for me.''

Stacy Sykora, another U.S. player, said the team was sleeping when Bachman was killed. They were awakened by team staff and told of Bachman's death.

"You have to understand what [Elisabeth Bachman] is for USA Volleyball,'' Sykora said. "She is like the best person in the U.S. volleyball world. He was just a great man. "

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