PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Wayne W. Backus of East Wilton and Punta Gorda, Fla., passed away Thursday, Jan. 13, at the Charlotte Regional Medical Center in Punta Gorda.
He was born Dec. 2, 1921, on the family farm on Titcomb Hill in Farmington, the son of Walter B. and S. Louise Jackson. In 1925 Wayne and his mother moved to the Smith farm in North Chesterville, attending schools there and in 1939 he graduated from Farmington High School.
Growing up during the Great Depression, and even as a small child, he wanted to earn money and given 25 crippled-toed chickens, he created his own poultry business. He also delivered the Lewiston Evening Journal and worked after school and on weekends at various filling stations. Wayne was in business for one year with his brother-in-law, Kenneth Lambert, at the Esso Station on Hippach Flat. For two years after graduating from high school, he worked in the shipping room at the Wilton Woolen Mill, followed by two years for the New England Shipbuilding Corp. in South Portland, advancing to be a sub-foreman.
On March 15, 1941, Wayne married A. Vestena Perkins of Wilton, living in Wilton and in Beans Corner until World War II broke out when they moved to Portland until he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He did his basic training at Parris Island, S.C., followed by advanced training at Camp Lejuine, N.C. He spent several months on Kauii before being transported to Okinawa where he participated in action against the enemy. Following Japan's surrender, Wayne was sent to China where his job was to disarm the Japanese and send them back to Japan. He was discharged from the Marine Corps on March 3, 1946.
On April 10, 1946, Wayne and his wife, Vestena, purchased the old Noyes Corn Canning factory in East Wilton and founded Backus Garage. Starting with selling used cars they obtained the Studebaker franchise followed by Jeep, Chrysler, IH trucks and eventually Dodge.
Being civic minded, Wayne served two terms on the Wilton School Committee during which he instigated closing the Dryden, East Wilton and East Dixfield grammar schools and building the Cushing School. He also served on the Wilton Health Committee, was treasurer and then president of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce where he helped the Wilton Tanning Co. become established. Wayne was also chairman of the Wilton Republican Committee. He was a member of the Wilton Lions Club, holding numerous offices including King Lion and served as Zone Chairman of the Lions International covering Maine and New Brunswick. He and other veterans established the Wilton Development Committee, which was the forerunner of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, and was active in changing Wilton to the Town Management form of government. Wayne was a member of the American Legion Post No. 117 as well as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
In 1972, after their son, Wally, purchased Backus Garage, they went into the business of purchasing old houses and renovating them into modern apartments, leasing them to tenants for several years and eventually sold them to their son, John, and their daughter, Janis Stinson.
Wayne and Vestena enjoyed spending several winters on the French Island of St. Barths in the Caribbean where they built a home. Upon selling their property there, they established a home in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Wayne is survived by his wife, Vestena; sons, Wally and his wife, Annette, of Farmington, and John of East Wilton; his daughter, Janis Stinson of Dryden; his half sister, Marilyn Powers, of New Sharon; 17 grandchildren; and 34 great- grandchildren.
Wayne was predeceased by his brothers, John of Texas, and Lauriston of Titusville, Fla.; sisters, Kathleen Lambert, of Farmington, and Evelyn Munson of Burlington, Vt., and East Wilton; and a granddaughter, Leah K. Stinson, of Dryden.
Those wishing may send on-line condolences to the family at www.adamsmcfarlane.com.