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Obituary for Harry Backus


Harry Austin Backus, of Mexico passed away on his 65th birthday, May 4, 2018 at the Oswego Hospital. He suffered a stroke and fought a valiant battle with never a complaint through his long stay in the hospital. Harry was the son of Horace and Doris Anne Backus and the grandson of R. Austin and Ethel Backus and Harry and Dorris Nicholson.

He was born in Oswego Hospital and spent his entire lifetime in Mexico excepting only his college years. Harry was a 1971 graduate of Mexico Academy and Central School where he played on a winning football team. In later years, he became an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers and visited their museum where he proudly sat in Vince Lombardi’s desk chair.

After high school he received an appointment to West Point. After spending the summer there, he resigned his position and attended Le Moyne College, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1976. One of those semesters was spent at Penn State. He was a devoted student of history particularly England and the Vikings. Harry then began work as an advertising representative for his family’s newspaper, The Mexico Independent. Shortly thereafter, he began furnishing a cartoon each week for the paper. It never included politics or hurt anyone’s feelings. This weekly chore continued until the recent sale of the newspaper.

In the summer of 1981, while thus employed, he attended NYU in New York City to take advanced courses in journalism. While there, he was hit by a taxi and spent three months in a coma at St. Vincent Hospital in southern Manhattan. He came home from there and spent a fourth month in a coma in a Syracuse Hospital. Gradually, he worked his way back to a remarkable recovery and spent his entire lifetime in the newspaper field.

In later years, he would quite often serve as a driver and companion to his father on trips that would cover the eastern U.S. (especially New York and Pennsylvania). None of this ever interfered with the production of his weekly cartoon. 

Harry was brought up in his younger years summering on the shore of Lake Ontario off Sage Creek Road in the town of Mexico. He never lost the love of the lake. He often would visit the Mexico Point boat launch to see the beautiful sunsets over the lake and watch the boats come in. This was usually followed by a visit to a beautiful, peaceful small herd of long-horned cattle of Scottish decent. Then by an appealing herd of Holstein cattle.

Surviving family members include his father and mother, brother John (Debra) Backus, sister Kim (Marc) Grindle, four nephews, Andrew (Hidemi) Backus, Jonathan Backus and Jesse (Lauren) Vorrasi and Derek Grindle. Uncle and aunt William and Nancy Nicholson, cousins are Mark (Jane) Backus and family, Dr. Katherine Nicholson, Shamus Nicholson, Sean (Lindsey) Nicholson and son Emmett, Sara (Craig) Clark, Heather Nicholson, Judy Backus and Brenda (James) Hotchkiss and family.

Harry was a lifetime member of the First Presbyterian Church of Mexico and Funeral Services will be held at the church at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 7, 2018 with Rev. Karen Green officiating. Friends and family are invited to call from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 6, 2018 at the Harter Funeral Home, 9 Washington Avenue, Mexico. There will be a reception following the ceremony at the Eis House, 144 Academy Street, Mexico.


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