Minot loses a friend and a leader

The people of Minot suffered a great loss last Thursday with the passing of former mayor Orlin Backes.

Many will remember Backes most as a very capable and trustworthy mayor. He was all that – and more.

After graduating from Glenburn High School and Minot State University he became a school teacher and would remain a mentor to youth throughout his professional and political career.

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. Here again he excelled and became a highly regarded member of his profession.

Minot has had other remarkable mayors and respected attorneys, but Backes stands out for yet another reason. He was passionate about economic development and stood at center stage when Minot’s MAGIC Fund was formed. As the fund’s first chairman, Backes was instrumental in determining how projects vying for money would be judged.

Monthly meetings of the screening committee were always conducted in a professional manner with each project – big or small – getting equal and fair consideration.

To his credit, Backes also insisted those meetings be open to the public. More than once economic developers asked that the media be barred from hearing details of a proposal, but Backes would have none of that.

This is not a sum of the life of Orlin Backes but merely a glimpse of a man who was a titan in his time.

His good longtime friend Lynn Aas captured Orlin’s spirit better when he stated, “Orlin was a citizen of the community, the state and the country. He was a true leader.”

Thanks, Orlin. And thanks to the Backes family for sharing him with the entire community.