|((Monday - September 21, 2020) -
Susan "Susie" Backlund, 68, of Kingsford passed away peacefully on
Thursday, September 17, at Evergreen Assisted Living Center. Her passing
marked the end of a 15-year struggle with Early Onset Alzheimer's
Susie was born in Iron Mountain on November 14, 1951,
the daughter of Robert and Shirley (Johnson) Menghini. She graduated
from Kingsford High School in 1969 and attended Central Michigan
University and Northern Michigan University, earning a Master's Degree.
She married Wayne Backlund on December 28, 1974 at the St. Mary Queen of
Peace Catholic Church in Kingsford. She gave birth to her only child,
Robert, on April 22, 1982. Susie was an elementary educator for over
three decades, devoting her energy and expertise to the most vulnerable
students. She spent the majority of her career in the Homer (Michigan)
Community Schools, retiring in June of 2006. A former student summed up
Susie's professional, personal and pedagogical prowess the best:
"Mrs. Backlund has helped me with my disability and I know I
wouldn't be who I am today without her assistance. She was my most
influential teacher and my goal is to become a social worker where I can
help kids the same way that Mrs. Backlund helped me...cause if it wasn't
for her I would have failed at a lot of things."
lived life with passion, zest and a personality that was infectious. She
loved her family and had an uncanny ability to humbly boast about them.
She loved to shop and was known to travel far and wide in search of
sales and antique treasures. Her laugh was contagious. She was creative
and had a knack for seasonal decorating that could make Martha Stewart
jealous. She was stubborn and one knew where she stood on an issue. She
loved to ski. Susie was a paragon for living life with gratitude, often
reminding her family of how "lucky" they were. Manners mattered.
"Please" and "thank you" were foundational to her vocabulary. Family
consensus was that she might have been wrong once; however, this will
need to be confirmed or debated with her at a later date. Even in the
face of a terminal illness she demonstrated the utmost courage to live,
love, laugh and navigate the unknown darkness with kindness and light.
Susie is survived by her husband, Wayne; a son, Robert Backlund
and daughter-in-law, Meredith Niles, both of Lincoln, Vermont; two
sisters, Joan (Larry) Swartout of Iron Mountain, and Kris Deckett of
Tawas City, Michigan; a granddaughter, Suvi Backlund-Niles; a
brother-in-law Jim (Mary) Backlund; and six nephews, Tom Swartout,
Andrew Swartout, Alex Swartout, David Deckett, Zach Backlund, and Max
Along with her parents, Susie was preceded in death by
her in-laws, Adolph "Pusty" and Rena Backlund.
A private memorial
service will be held later this week. A public celebration of Susie's
life will take place in the summer of 2021, assuming that it can be done
safely in light of Covid-19.
The Backlunds want to extend their
deepest gratitude to family, friends and community members who helped
them navigate the challenges of Alzheimer's Disease. No gesture of
support, help and kindness went unnoticed over the years. We especially
want to extend our appreciation to our heroes and Susie's "angels" at
Evergreen Assisted Living Center for taking care of any and all of her
needs day in and out over the last few years. Your tireless efforts
helped provide solace for a family trying to manage complicated loss and
In lieu of flowers, Susie's family requests that you
consider carrying out the following actions with her spirit and passion
for life in mind:
- Being kinder than necessary to ALL - even if
your political views differ (imagine that)
- A phone call to a
family member or friend
- Voting for elected leaders who support
public schools, teachers and equitable education for all students,
especially those with special needs
- Reaching out to a family
that is facing Alzheimer's Disease or another neuro-degenerative
disorder and asking not "if" they need help, but "how" you can help.
- A donation to the Greater Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer's
Association (www.alz.org/gmc) in Susie's honor
memories of Susan "Susie" Backlund may be expressed online at:
The family has entrusted the Erickson-Rochon & Nash Funeral Home
with the arrangements.