Milton Vaughn Backman, Jr., died peacefully in his daughter’s
home in Herriman, Utah, on February 6, 2016. He was eighty-eight
years old. Milt, or “Mickey” to many of his
friends, was professor emeritus of Church History and Doctrine
at Brigham Young University. He was born in Salt Lake City,
Utah, on June 11, 1927, and grew up there and in Los Angeles
and graduated from Salt Lake's East High School in 1945.
He served during World War II as a Merchant Marine and during
the Korean War in the U.S. Air Force. He served an LDS mission
in South Africa. On his birthday in 1953 he married Kathleen
McLatchy, also of Salt Lake City. He received his Bachelor’s
and Master’s Degrees in History from the University
of Utah, and a Ph.D, also in History, from the University
of Pennsylvania in 1959. After teaching U.S. History for
two years at West Texas State University he moved to Provo
where he taught at Brigham Young University from 1960 to
1991. He primarily taught courses in U.S. History, Christian
Religions, and LDS Church History.
Dr. Backman was the author of six books:
American Religions and the Rise of Mormonism (1970); Joseph
Smith’s First Vision (1971); Eyewitness Accounts of
the Restoration (1986); Christian Churches of America (1983);
The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints
in Ohio, 1830–1838 (1983); and People and Power of
Nauvoo (2002). His writings also appear in other publications,
including many articles and pamphlets and the Joseph Smith
After retiring from BYU he served several short-term LDS
Missions in Nauvoo, Illinois, and in 1994 helped to organize
the BYU Semester Program there where he served as director
for three semesters. He later served two additional LDS
Missions with his second wife, Sharon Richey, in Nauvoo
and Kirtland, Ohio.
Milt travelled throughout the world. He led numerous tours
with BYU Travel Study and participated in many BYU Education
Weeks. He was an avid fan of BYU sports. He even attended
a BYU basketball game the week before his death.
Milt is predeceased by three wives, Kathleen McLatchy,
Sharon Richey and Ramona Church; a daughter, Karen; his
parents, Milton Vaughn Backman, Sr., and Florence Viola
Peterson; a sister Karen; a step-son Joseph Richey; and
a sister Bette Esch. He is survived by a daughter, Kris
Denison (Neil) of Herriman; a son, Mike (Steve Swayne) of
Quechee, Vermont; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren:
Jessica Vrabec (John) and their children, Ruby and Kaylynn,
of Driggs, Idaho; Heather Harmon (Brent) and their children,
Rylieann Bruin and Ayden, of Tooele, Utah; Jamie Christensen
(Ryan) and their children, Benton and Tayson, of Herriman;
Dane Denison of Logan, Utah; Alexis Blackham (Corie) of
Eagle Mountain, Utah; and stepchildren Kristine Smith (Steve)
of Fresno, California; Roberta Richey of Alpine, Utah; Thomas
Richey of American Fork; Jon Richey (Janet) of Porterville,
California; Mark Richey (Kristen) of Redlands, California;
Lisa Roubicek (Mike) of Fresno; Suzie Fitts (Stewart) of
Las Vegas, Nevada; David Richey of American Fork; and James
Richey (Heather) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Fifty-four step-grandchildren
and twenty-eight step-great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 13,
2016 at 10:00 am at the Manila LDS Chapel, 1320 West 3540
North, Pleasant Grove, Utah. Family and friends may call
Friday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Warenski Funeral
Home, 1776 North 900 East, American Fork, Utah, and again
on Saturday morning at the church from 8:30 to 9:30 am prior
to services. Interment will be at East Lawn Memorial Hills
Cemetery, Provo, Utah. In lieu of flowers, donations may
be made to the Church Missionary Fund.
Was born July 24, 1931 in Richmond Indiana at the home
of James Thurman Reed and Mae Euphemia Holmquist. Catherine had three
younger brothers; Robert Joseph, James Thomas, and Richard Allen Reed.
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