In Memory

Alton L Backs - Class Of 1943


Alton J. Backs, M.D., 91, longtime resident and physician in South Bend, passed away on August 27, 2017, at Brookdale Senior Living Center, Granger.
Al was born December 23, 1925, Minster, OH, to Dr. Leo and Olga (Harlett) Backs. He attended St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, IN before enlisting in the Navy, where he trained as a Medic. After WW II, he graduated from the University of Dayton and from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine where he met the love of his life, Alice. He interned at St. Joseph Hospital in South Bend, where he also served on the Intern recruitment and training program. Al was a family practice physician near Holy Cross Parish for 13 years. He was also a physician for the St. Joseph County Home & Jail; Washington High School Football team; Notre Dame Infirmary; and an emergency doctor at Studebaker and Drewry's Brewery. Al was in the US Air Force Reserves from 1952-1971.
After starting his family with his wife Alice, he entered a radiology residency at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago. Upon completion, Al returned to South Bend to join the radiology group at St. Joseph Hospital. He later chaired the radiology department at Pawating (LakeLand) Hospital, Niles, MI followed by doing Locum Tenens, retiring fully at 75 years of age.
Al had many community and recreational interests outside of medicine. He was always available for last minute camp, scout, youth league, and high school physicals. Al enjoyed spending time with his family and their annual vacations. Al believed in remaining physically active as a means to good health; participating in many forms of outdoor recreation including tennis, fishing, small game hunting, golf, hiking, skiing, canoeing, racquet ball, and gardening. Al was an ardent ND sports fan and enjoyed his community involvement with Knights of Columbus and the Izaak Walton League.
He is survived by his wife Alice; his six children: Steven (Jacqueline) of Buddha IN; Thomas of Westminster, CO; Christine (Eric) Vanags in Loveland, CO; James (South Bend); Barbara Backs-Rector (Rob Lazarony)in Loveland, CO; and Peter in Broomfield, CO. His five grandchildren: Taylor (Jillian), and Matthew Backs; Jacob (Katy) Rector, Noah (Mandi) Rector, and Anastasia Rector; and 4 great-grand daughters: Maretta, Claire, and Miriam Backs; and, Liviah Rector. He is also survived by his brother, Mark Backs M.D. of Tucson, AZ, and his five children.
Visitation will be Wednesday, August 30, 2017 from 3-8 pm at Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, South Bend, IN, where a Parish Rosary will be prayed at 4:00 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 10:30 am at Holy Cross Catholic Church. Interment will follow at Highland Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to Holy Cross Church, The Christ Child Society, or St. Joseph County Izaak Walton League
The family gives special thanks to the exceptional care by the staff at Brookdale, Granger, and the Center for Hospice Care .
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