UW-Green Bay mourns the loss of Cyril ‘Zeke’ Backes
Cyril J. Backes, 93, of Green Bay, passed away Friday, June 10, 2022, peacefully at his home. Friends and peers describe the longtime UW-Green Bay administrator as a “warm and wonderful man. One of the very best.”
Backes served as an administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a decade. In 1968 he was chosen by UW-Green Bay’s Founding Chancellor Edward Weidner to be head of the Business Services Department and Physical Plant, where he helped to build and develop the four-year UW-Green Bay campus at its present site.
Chancellor Weidner had this to say about Backes, “He is one of the few people in the organization that will report to the Chancellor points of view and recommendations that are obviously contrary to the know preferences of the Chancellor. He has an ability to present such disagreeable recommendations pleasantly and with convincing authority. I often find that he is right.”
In 1988-89 he received the Founders Award of Excellence for institutional development. The nomination cited: “Zeke’s untiring efforts and creative planning have kept UWGB moving ahead during an extended period of austere budgeting. Two attributes which have contributed to his many successful endeavors over the years have been his inner determination and his dedication to UWGB.” He retired in 1991, and in an article, he noted that he wanted to be remembered for his “honesty and sense of humor.”
According to the obituary, “Cyril was an avid sports enthusiast, he was an accomplished golfer achieving a few ‘hole-in-ones’ over the years, including one in which he was presented with a trophy at Shorewood Golf Course in 1993. He also enjoyed tennis, racquetball, swimming, waterskiing, and was an incredible fisherman. He and his wife, Mary Lou, loved UWGB Basketball, especially the women’s games—they attended all the home games. In 2014 they received recognition on the center court as the “Season Ticket Holder of the Game.”
In lieu of flowers, please donate to stjude.org or your favorite charity. Visitation for ‘Zeke’ to celebrate his life will be held on Friday, June 17, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at Resurrection Catholic Church (333 Hilltop Dr. Green Bay) with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. with Father Robert Karuhn officiating. Military Honors will follow, entombment will be at Allouez Catholic Mausoleum, Allouez. Cotter Funeral and Cremation Services is assisting the family.
Please see the full obituary.