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Cleo R. Backus

Cleo R. Backus, age 105, of Dublin, OH, passed away on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at The Kobacker House following a long well-lived life. She was born in Columbus, OH on October 31, 1913 to the late Roy and Ethel Roberts. On June 7, 1947, she married the love of her life, David N. Backus at the Northminster Presbyterian Church. The two shared 47 years together. 

She was a U.S. Navy Veteran who proudly served our country during WWII. Her expansive work history includes; Grandview Heights Public Library, Otterbein College, Columbus School for Girls, University School and Pomerene Hall. Cleo was a long- time resident of Grandview; member of Broad Street Presbyterian Church, Phi Upsilon Omicron and the Riverside Sewing Guild. She had many hobbies and interests; which include sewing, gardening, collecting butterflies and playing bridge, just to name a few. She enjoyed time in the kitchen, which was reflected by her cooking and baking. She had a love of music, especially opera. She had a thirst for knowledge that was often quenched by reading. She fell in love with poetry as a little girl and could recite almost any poem she had read over the past 100 years. Cleo was a proud Irish woman, who relished in learning the culture and folklore of her heritage. 

Preceded in death by loving husband, David N. Backus; parents, Roy and Ethel Roberts; sisters, Dorothy Roberts, Julia R. Gump, A. Eleanor Roberts, Jane R. Gum and Marilyn Roberts; and son-in-law, James D. Jacob. 

She is survived by her children, Timothy (Linda) Backus, Lois Jacob, and Kristen Backus; granddaughters, Sarah (Nick) Sheets, and Erin (Addam) Marcotte; great-granddaughters, Emma and Kira Marcotte; many nieces, nephews, extended relatives and friends. The family would like to express their gratitude to OhioHealth Hospice and Dublin Assisted Living for their wonderful care. 

In keeping with her wishes, cremation will take place. A service will be held on Saturday, August 10, 2019 at 11:00 A.M. at Broad Street Presbyterian Church, 760 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205.

Memorial Contributions may be made to Ohio Health Hospice, 800 McConnell Drive, Columbus, OH 43214 or Broad Street Presbyterian Church, 760 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43205; or your local SPCA/Humane Society. 



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  • Rose Tyburski says:

    So sorry to hear of Cleo’s passing.She was the most interesting lady I have ever met. She was a sweet soul. She kept me company many evenings when I worked at Dublin Assisted Living and Memory Support. She was not only interesting to talk to but she was a smart lady.
    God bless her soul.

  • Rich Hamble says:

    My wife and I were lucky enough to get to know Cleo when she lived on Elmwood Ave. in Grandview. We moved in two doors down and became quick friends. She was an incredibly caring and sweet woman with a bit of sass! She will be missed by our family.

  • Patty Ferrante says:

    I’m sorry to hear of Cleo’s passing. I am the daughter of Harriett Aschinger Frey. Mom discovered they cousins many years ago. She loved visiting with Cleo up until her death on 5/16/16. I was blessed to meet Cleo on several occasions. She was a lovely lady. May God give you peace and comfort as you grieve. Blessings, Patty

  • Susan Altan says:

    Dear Family of Cleo,
    I would have a hard time expressing to you how much the the many years I worked with your mother mean to me. You were so lucky to have her as a mother; I often told her that I wished she were mine.
    Cleo had an amazing ability to learn new library technology and at the same time work with the smallest children instilling a love of books and reading.
    She shared wonderful stories about her amazing life and often talked about your dad, whom she loved so dearly. Cleo was an excellent role model for living an engaged life and for aging with zest and grace.
    Please let me know when services for her will be. Most sincere condolences to you all.
    With love, Susan Altan

  • Renay Ricart Andrews says:

    Thank you for the many years at csg. Your kindness, love, and understanding of youth and love of reading has tricked down through generations. Rest in heavenly peace♥️

  • Mike Sibio says:

    My sympathy to Cleo’s family. What a wonderful life!

  • Perry and Ann Rogers says:

    Having taught at Columbus School for Girls for 35 years, I know that Cleo absolutely loved people and influenced the lives of so many students and teachers alike. She was a dynamic learner with an unfailing memory who was filled with curiosity about the world around her and invited each person she encountered to share her joy of discovery. When our son was born three months premature, we remember that Cleo was among the first and most constant to offer us the loving support that we needed during that difficult time. We especially remember her surprise delivery of homemade bread and tomato soup. Indeed, Cleo’s was a long life lived well. We will miss her kind and loving spirit!

  • David Morris says:

    My father, Robert Morris (living), was a high school classmate at Westerville High School of Cleo’s sister Jane. For a three or four year period during The Great Depression, Dad lived with his parents Marion (1899-1989) and Mary (1900-1981)(Callahan) Morris on a small farm owned by his paternal grandfather Ulysses Morris (1869-1948) at the SW and SE corners of Sunbury Road and Walnut Street. The Roberts family at that time lived in a house on the NW corner of Sunbury and Walnut (their barn was on the east side of Sunbury Road), i.e., they were neighbors. Having started out in grade school at Vine Street (Emerson) School, Dad wanted to continue attending there instead of nearby Central College and received permission to ride his bicycle a round trip distance of six miles to Vine Street during each of those years that he lived on Sunbury Road, while the Roberts children, as he remembers it, attended grade school at Central College. Cleo and her sisters were the nieces of “Kate” Freeman (1879-1945) who was a sister of Cleo’s mother Ethel (1893-1977) (Freeman) Roberts (Dad remembers Ethel’s Public Opinion Tussic Street column). Kate was also the (second) wife of Ulysses Morris (his first wife having died young) and step-mother of my grandfather Marion Morris and his brother Herman, the only mother that they really knew. So not only were the Morris and Roberts families neighbors at one point, but they were in a way related by marriage. I still remember my grandfather Marion Morris having a long conversation with Cleo’s father Roy Roberts (1890-1991) at a Kaiser family reunion at Buckeye Lake. And I believe that it was Cleo’s sister Armanella who either nominated or introduced my late mother Julia (Thomas) Morris (1924-1993) at a 1988 Pi Lambda Theta Citations Dinner. While working on a family history project a few years ago, Dad asked me to try and reach out to Cleo through CSG although privacy concerns prohibited the school from providing any information. Upon learning of Cleo’s passing, Dad expressed his sadness at not having been able to meet with her to reminisce about her family and growing up in and around old Westerville. We send our most sincere condolences.

  • Keely Ayres says:

    My condolences to Mrs. Backus’s family. I remember her fondly from my days at CSG. Always a friendly, smiling face in the Library. It sounds as if she had a wonderful, well-lived life.

  • Lisa Riemenschneider says:

    There was only one like her!! What an absolute marvel she was, and it’s not a wonder that she and my mom shared a decades-long friendship in Grandview. My mom always adored Cleo and on nice summer evenings after dinner was over and the dishes were done, I can still remember mom saying “well, I think I might go visit with Cleo”. And through the backyard from our Westwood house, across the alley on through the shared driveway between what I will always call the Robinson’s and Rossi houses, she would go over to Cleo’s Elmwood Ave porch. I got to know Cleo better after mom passed and had many visits, often with my Dad, with her and just loved hearing her fascinating stories and found her to be such a comfort. She and her feisty spirit here will be missed, but I’m sure she’s thrilled to be reunited with Dave and she and mom are reminiscing on a porch in the great beyond.

  • Lena Myers Lini says:

    So sorry to hear of Mrs Backus’s passing. She was my typing teaching at CSG and library companion for all my years there. All the stories and remembrances of her are true – she was always the kindest, and strongest role model that girls at CSG could ask for. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

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