Harlan Backhaus

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Harlan Lester Harvey Backhaus was born April 19, 1930, on the family farm in Clayton County, near Garnavillo, to Ernie and Georgene (Mohning) Backhaus. His mother died when he was only three years old, and his father married Evangeline (Mohning), his stepmother. Harlan passed away on Aug. 18, 2020, at the Good Neighbor Home, in Manchester, at the age of 90.

He received his education (grades 1-8) in country school, then later graduated from Garnavillo High School in the class of 1947. He would brag to his children and grandchildren that he was the top of his class through the eighth grade (because he was the only one in the class).

Harlan married Zita Butikofer on Oct. 1, 1957, at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Elgin. They had two children, Kathy Renee and Donald Harlan. Together, they farmed the Backhaus family farm until retiring in 1986 and moved to Garnavillo. While farming, Harlan also drove school bus for Garnavillo/Clayton Ridge School for 38 years, until health issues forced him to retire. He loved driving the school bus and never considered it a “job.” He also drove a dump truck for John Lenth for many years.

Harlan was a lifelong member of St. Peter Lutheran Church, Garnavillo, being baptized and confirmed there, and was very active through the years in Luther League, Men’s Brotherhood, serving on the church council several times including as president, was head usher for a number of years and fulfilled the duties of recording treasurer for 37 years.

Harlan proudly served his country during the Korean Conflict as a radio operator/radio truck driver. He has been an active member of Clay-Gar Post #723 since 1955, and has held every office in the post. He was a member of the committee that started the Avenue of Flags in the Garnavillo City Park as well as the committee that built the veterans memorial in the park. Harlan has also been active in the American Legion on the county, department (state) and national levels, serving in various capacities. He was a member of the Voiture 40 & 8 for over 50 years and served as a Boys State director. He also had the privilege of going on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Harlan was very active in several community organizations, including the Boy Scouts, Clayton County Fair Board, Grinnell Mutual Insurance Board of Directors, the Senior Citizens, Garnavillo City Council and city zoning board and the Garnavillo Community Boosters. Harlan was proud of the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award he received in 2010.

Harlan enjoyed playing cards, eating at Thoma’s, mowing his lawn on his riding lawn mower and being with his family.

Those left to cherish his memory are children Kathy (Tom) Moorhouse of Manchester and Donald (Kayleen) Backhaus, Dubuque; grandchildren Heidi (Dan) Stewart of West Des Moines; Paul Moorhouse, Urbandale; David (Kelsey Meyer) Backhaus and Matthew (Lindsey) Backhaus, all of Dubuque; great-grandchildren Abe Stewart and Cora Backhaus; brother-in-law Melbert (Jean) Butikofer; and sister-in-law Janet Butikofer.

Harlan was preceded in death by his parents, stepmother, wife Zita (January 1999), great-grandson Cohen David Backhaus, brother Delmer Backhaus, sisters-in-law Marcella and Beverly Backhaus, brothers- and sister-in-law Norbert Butikofer, Billy Butikofer and Marcia Butikofer.

Arrangements are being handled by Tuecke-Allyn Funeral Home, Garnavillo.  Due to COVID-19 concerns, there will be a private family service and interment. 

In lieu of flowers and all other types of sympathy, the family has designated the American Legion Iowa Foundation, St. Peter Lutheran Church in Garnavillo and the Good Neighbor Society in Manchester for memorials, or any organization of your choice.

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