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‘He was a true leader’

Former Minot Mayor Orlin Backes dies

MDN File Photo Outgoing Mayor George Christensen, left, hands over the gavel to new Mayor Orlin Backes at a city council reorganization meeting in June 1994.

Former Minot Mayor Orlin Backes thought Minot was a great place and it could be even greater.

Backes died Thursday at his home in Minot at age 82 following a battle with cancer.

His son, Jon Backes, said his father was an avid promoter of Minot. “He tried to make Minot better than he knew it already was,” he said.

He felt Minot Air Force Base was a great asset to Minot, said his son.

Orlin Backes was mayor of Minot from 1994-98 and was a longtime attorney in the city.

He graduated from Glenburn High School and Minot State University, then taught school. After graduating from the University of North Dakota Law School he practiced law with the law firm now known as McGee, Hankla and Backes in Minot since 1963.

“Orlin was my truly good friend,” said Lynn Aas of Minot. “I served with him on numerous committees in the Chamber of Commerce and was one or two ahead of me as chairman. He was also my next-door neighbor.” Aas urged Backes to run for mayor and served as chairman of his campaign.

“He was truly a citizen dedicated to giving of all of his efforts to the entire community,” said Aas, adding, “He never failed on that.”

“Orlin was a citizen of the community, the state and the country. He was a true leader,” Aas continued. “He was certainly a leader in his profession as well.”

Backes was a member and active in numerous professional associations including the American Bar Association and North Dakota Bar Association, and many community and state boards and organizations.

Backes served on the “Committee of 34” which developed the blueprint for the State of North Dakota economic development plan called the “Growing North Dakota Program,” according to his biographical information. Then Gov. George Sinner, appointed Backes as the first chairman of the North Dakota Future Fund, a state economic development nonprofit corporation serving as the central part of the North Dakota economic development program.

Backes was chairman of a committee to establish an economic development and business diversification program for the City of Minot. In 1990 he was appointed to serve as the first chairman of Minot’s Magic Fund.

As mayor of Minot, he developed a “strategies for the future” program for the City of Minot, which expanded on a new business development program for the Minot trade area including several new facilities for Minot, according to his biographical information.

Orlin Backes’ wife, Mildred “Millie,” died in November 2016. The Backes’ were honored Oct. 16 when they were inducted in the Bishop Ryan High School Hall of Fame.

Thompson-Larson Funeral Home in Minot is in charge of funeral arrangements.

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