John (Little John) Axel Backholm, age 86 of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota passed away Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at Oak Crossing Nursing Home.
John was born April 22, 1933, the youngest of three boys to John Gustaf and Ida (Hiltunen) Backholm in Huntersville Township, Wadena County. Delivered by a Midwife (Amanda Seikkula) on the family farm.
John attended school at District 59, Wadena County, at age 17 he dropped out and enlisted in the US Air Force. John was stationed at Lackland AFB, Texas from 1950-1952. He then transferred to Sidi Slimain AFB. Morocco, Africa to 1955. At that time he discharged. John wanted to try civilian life, shortly after he met the love of his life, Beatrice K. Burgen. They were united in marriage August 29, 1954, at Nimrod Lutheran Church, Nimrod. With John working multiple jobs; school bus driver, PT clerk for Emil Makela’s meat market, bartender, as well of having 13 head of cattle.
The first of their four children were born, a son, Rodney George on May 28, 1955. Experiencing hard times, John re-enlisted into the USAF keeping his rank as Master Sergent. He was stationed at McDill AFB, Tampa, Florida, from 1957-1960. During this time his second son, Steven Michael was born December 30, 1958. With new orders, John was stationed to Minot, North Dakota from 1960-1966. A third child was born, a daughter, Shari Ann on September 24, 1962. In 1965 John was selected for Air Police Carbine Competition (TDY). John received orders to serve at Ben Guerir, AFB, Vietnam in 1966. While serving in Vietnam his family was moved to Sebeka, to live with Bea’s parents Edgar and Anna Burgen. Communication during this time was done VIA recorder, tapes sometimes taking two weeks to be received by mail. Phone calls were few and far between, until John received new orders. The family was reunited and moved to Sembach, AFB, Germany, then to Luke AFB, Glendale, Arizona in 1972. Shortly after moving to Arizona they were blessed with a fourth child a son, Jeffrey Allen, on May 30, 1972. While still interested in learning, in 1975 John attended Glendale Community College for Real Estate.
With 23 years of service, John retired from the Air Force as Military Police Master Sergeant on May 1, 1977.
With the knowledge of real estate, John purchased land from his Grandfather and his Uncle Henry in Runeberg Township. He starting to build his first home, leaving his family in Arizona during the major construction. He moved his family to their new home in Minnesota in August 1979. Finally having a place to call home in Menahga. Having 120 acres, John enjoyed raising beef cattle, pigs and two horses. “Life was Good”
John loved life; he lived everyday to the fullest, humor being his priority. John lived for deer hunting, sucker fishing, gardening (taking canned goods to neighbors houses claiming he did it!), as well as dabbing in the stock market. John was an avid reader. He also enjoyed riding his two motorcycles. Don’t forget about his collection of guns. Later in life he purchased property on the Crow Wing, best known as “Deer Haven.” John was a member of the American Legion, Post 38 in Park Rapids, where he was Commander for a year.
He was a lifetime member of Berg Nyland Post #456 of Sebeka. He was also a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Menahga, where he served as President for one year and also as an usher.
On March 21, 1997 having had a major stroke John’s life changed, leaving him unable to talk or walk. Now being totally dependent, his wife, Bea and his family became his caregivers until a nursing home was required. Even with this, John still had his Spirit, his will and his love for life.
John is survived by his wife Beatrice K. (Burgen) Backholm; son, Rodney (Debbie) Backholm of Phoenix, Arizon; son, Steven Backholm (Kerry) of Walker; daughter, Shari Peterson (Jon) of Detroit Lakes; and son, Jeffrey (Michelle) Backholm, of Rochester; ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
John is preceded into death after his father and mother John and Ida (Hiltunen) Backholm; and brothers Floyd and George Backholm.
Visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Sunday, November 24, 2019 at Wevley Funeral Home in Sebeka, and one hour prior to the services at the church. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, November 25, at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Menahga, with Pastor David Walsh officiating. Ruth Ann Kinnunen will serve as organist. Active casket bearers will be Ernie Cowden, Ernie Patson, Richard Meyer, Tim Rowoldt, Jon Luedke, and Neil Hanson. Interment will be at West Lyons Cemetery Lyons Township, Wadena County.
Arrangements are entrusted to Wevley Funeral Home of Sebeka. Online condolences may be left at www.wevleyfuneralhome.com. 11-27