Born to Carl and Irene Isaacson on June 15, 1928, on the farm she grew up on. Attended a one-room country school grades 1-8. Graduated from Litchfield High School in 1946.
Attended the University of Minnesota—graduated in 1951 with Bachelor of Science in Public Health Nursing.
On the staff of University of Minnesota Hospital for three years. Head nurse on medical station.
1954 married Gordon L. Backer.
1955 first child, Carl, born at University of Minnesota hospital, moved to Seattle, Washington, where Gordon interned. Second son, Eric, born in Seattle. After internship Gordon was in the U.S. Navy (Flight Surgeon) for 2 ½ years. Arlene became a “Navy Wife” and they lived in Sanford, Florida, where third son, Tom, was born.
After the Navy Gordon was an ophthalmology resident at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for 3 years and a fourth son, Paul, was born. The last three months of Gordon’s residency they lived on the Navajo Indian reservation in Ft. Defiance, Arizona. In 1962, they moved to Wausau.
Housewife and mother. Den mother, Cub Scouts, active in the First Presbyterian Church as both an elder and deacon. Presbyterian Women’s Association, Medical auxiliary, AAUW.
Enjoyed travel with husband after children all out of the nest. Sailed in Caribbean, visited Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Africa (twice), South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, China, Russia, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.
Arlene wrote down these elements of her life story in 2010, before she started to suffer from the effects of Alzheimer’s. She and Gordon were inseparable, married for more than 60 years, and they shared their lives together at home in Wausau until Gordon died in 2014. Following Gordon’s death, Arlene moved to Stoney River Assisted Living, where she remained until she died on May 30, 2016. Arlene was 87. Arlene is survived by her four sons (Carl of Winnetka, IL; Eric of Durango, CO; Tom of Bainbridge Island, WA; and Paul (Gus) of Lake Forest, IL), seven grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Arlene’s life will be held at the family’s cabin in Lac du Flambeau on July 30th. Please contact a family member for details. Memorials may be directed to the First Presbyterian Church of Wausau, the Marathon County Historical Society, or the Woodson Art Museum.