Dr. George P. (Pete) Backer passed away at his home in La Porte, Indiana on January 30, 2020. He was born in Ferdinand, Indiana, the son of Dr. Henry G. and Frances McLaughlin Backer. Pete was the oldest of twelve children.
His elementary school education was in Ferdinand except for one year with his grandfather in Indianapolis. His high school years were memorable for taking the train to school in Huntingburg and for serving for a time as the train’s bookkeeper.
He volunteered to join the Navy in January 1944 and attended college at Indiana University until he was called up in 1945. He was trained as an electronics and sonar technician in the Navy at Great Lakes, Gulfport, Mississippi, and then Bremerton, Washington. While not involved in combat due to the war ending with Japan, he helped decommission ships in Bremerton, Washington.
He finished pre-med at Indiana University and then went to the IU School of Medicine in Bloomington and Indianapolis graduating in 1951. He interned at the Indianapolis General (now Eskenazi) Hospital. He practiced with his father in general practice for two years in Ferdinand before going back to Indianapolis to complete a radiology residency at the Indiana University Medical Center. He married Mary Barbara Yeager on June 19, 1954, and later joined Dr. John Scott’s radiology practice in LaPorte, IN in 1957. He was on the medical staff of LaPorte Hospital from 1957 until retirement in 1994, serving multiple times as chairman of the Radiology Department. He was a member of the American College of Radiology, the American Medical Association, served as President of the LaPorte County Medical Society in 1963 and was active on many medical committees and community projects. He and his wife Barbara enjoyed international travel to explore art, history and other cultures. He enjoyed reading, gardening, and sailing at the family cottage on Lake Michigan, and had passions for movies, jazz music, and educational TV. He will be remembered as a beloved patriarch of the family.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years M. Barbara Backer, M.D., his children, Linda Sirugo, MD (David) La Porte, Mark Backer, Ph.D. Foster City, California, David Backer, MBA (Mary) Carlsbad, California, B. Timothy Backer MMC, South Bend and Laura Backer MD, Bellingham, Washington and his 12 grandchildren Anna Sirugo, Alex Sirugo, Teressa Sirugo, Domenic Sirugo, Sofia Sirugo, Victor Sirugo, Simone Backer, Adrian Backer, Evan Backer, Grace Backer, Kate Backer, and Claire Backer. He is survived by his siblings Sister Phyllis Backer, MMS of Philadelphia, Marge Backer of Ferdinand, Indiana, Thomas Backer of Erlanger, Kentucky, Joseph Backer, MD of Arlington, Virginia as well as multiple nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and siblings John, Henry, David, Lawrence, Mary Jo Uebelhor, Patrick, and Sue Hasenour.
Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Friday, February 7, 2020, at Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Essling Chapel, 1117 Indiana, La Porte, Indiana, where a Rosary will be recited at 6:30 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 8, 2020, at St. Peter Catholic Church, La Porte, Indiana. Reverend Ian Williams will officiate. Burial will follow in Pine Lake Cemetery. Family & friends may gather at 9 a.m. Saturday in the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Unity Foundation Backer Family Fund, 422 Franklin Street, Michigan City, IN 46360, IU School of Medicine Backer Scholarship, c/o Indiana University Foundation, PO Box 7072, Indianapolis IN 46207-7072 or to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Please share prayers, condolences, and memories with the family at Essling Funeral Home.com.