Donald Backes

Donald Backes


Donald G. Backes, 82, of Decorah, Iowa passed away Sunday, September 29, 2019 at the Barthell Eastern Star Home in Decorah, Iowa.  Donald George, the son of George and Viola (Kurash) Backes was born May 13, 1937, in Jackson Junction, Iowa.  He was baptized and confirmed at Saint Lukes Catholic Church in St. Lucas, Iowa and graduated from Saint Lukes Parochial School in 1955.

Don followed his father and grandfather into the masonry business and worked with his father into his mid-twenties. Drafted, Don served with the United States Army from 1961-1963 as a mechanic and as an artillery Forward Observer.  During the Cuban missile crisis, his Ft. Sill, OK, artillery unit was mobilized to a Gulf Coast shipyard and loaded onto ships in anticipation of invading Cuba.  After Don scowled fiercely in the direction of Cuba, the whole affair became resolved.

Don married and set up homestead on a hobby farm near Nordness, south of Decorah.   He taught masonry construction at NITI in Calmar, IA, for fifteen years before starting his own masonry business.  Donald was well-known as a technical master in his trade.  All of his children grew up working with him. His two sons followed him into the masonry trade, becoming fourth generation masons.  

Don was a member of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus in Ossian, Iowa.  He enjoyed working with his hands and was a jack-of-all trades. He took great pleasure in gardening, tree trimming and grafting, and woodworking.  Don also enjoyed spending time with people, especially his family and friends. His smile always lit up the room.  He is dearly loved and already greatly missed.  

Don is survived by four children, Brian Backes of Decorah, Iowa; Janeen Backes of Schaumburg, Illinois; Lynee Backes of Kent, Washington; and Chad (Nadia Alber) Backes of Arena, Wisconsin; six grandchildren, Samuel Johnson Backes, Jacob Johnson Backes, Maxwell Johnson Backes, Alexander Johnson Backes, Charlie Backes, and Beatrix Backes; his former wife and mother of his children, Patricia Backes; his former wife Gail Heying; one brother, George (Betty) Backes of Calmar, Iowa; three sisters, Darlene (Norbert) Gossling of Waucoma, Iowa; Marian (Bill) Wiltgen of Ossian, Iowa; and Joanne (Virgil) Thuente of Decorah, Iowa; and many nieces and nephews.

Don was preceded in death by his daughter, Deanna Backes; his parents; and his sister, Elaine Wiltgen.  He is now most certainly sitting with Deanna, eating his oil-popped popcorn made just the way she liked it.  


Mass of Christian Burialwill be held 10:30 am, on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Ossian, Iowa. Rev. Robert Gross will be the celebrant.

Friends may call4:00 pm until 7:00 pm on Friday, October 4, 2019 at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Ossian, Iowa. There will be a rosary service held at the church on Friday at 3:45 pm.

Internmentwill be held in the St. Francis de Sales Cemetery following the mass with military rites by the Ossian American Legion Post #503.    


Schmitz-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Ossian, Iowa is assisting the family.

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