Obituary: Back, Jack

Age 90

BACK, Jack Jack Back was born in Bergo, Finland, on October 21, 1922 as Fjalar Back, and he died December 14th, 2012 in his home in Spokane, Washington.

Jack was preceded in death by his loving wife Thelma in July of 2008.

Jack was the eldest child of Albert and Signe Back.

He is survived by his sisters Linda Back, Ariadna Akerback, and his brother Karl.

Two brothers, Ingvald and Eric Sahlerg (who was adopted) preceded him in death.

He also has several nieces and nephews still residing in Finland.

Jack entered the United States on December 7th, 1941.

Jack was on the Finnish Merchant ship, the Coura, anchored in New York harbor when the US Coast Guard pulled alongside and informed the crew to “pack it up, get ready to go to shore.”

Jack was detained at Ellis Island for approximately 30 days while he was processed to become a U.S. citizen and was asked to choose an English name.

He was given 200 U.S. dollars and welcomed to the U.S. Jack stayed in NYC for 7 days and then caught a Greyhound Bus and rode it across the U.S. until he arrived in Aberdeen, Washington where he remembered he had a distant relative.

Jack later became a U.S.

Merchant Marine and went back to sea in support of the U.S. war effort.

While on leave on the Oregon Coast, he was introduced to a woman who would later become his loving wife of 58 years, Thelma Kayser.

The two were wed in 1950 and then Thelma and Jack moved to Spokane and settled in a home they shared together until they passed.

Jack was baptized December 21st, 1957 into the Catholic Church and confirmed July 6th, 1958.

Jack was ordained into the Deaconate in 1978 and served at St. Aloysius Parish in Spokane.

Jack served the spiritual needs of the individuals of several retirement communities, especially the O’Malley Apartments.

He was also very active in the prison ministry for several years.

Jack retired from Exchange Lumber Company after 35 years of faithful service as a wood craftsman.

During that time Jack invented and patented a door hinge duplicating device that he marketed under a little known business called Big D. Jack will be missed very much by his family, his many friends and especially by his very loving staff; Michelle, Shane, and Angelo.

A Vigil Service will be held at Hennessey-Smith Funeral Home on Wednesday, December 19, at 4:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Aloysius Catholic Church on Thursday, December 20, at 11:00 a.m.

The Committal will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, Thursday, December 20, at 2:00 p.m.

Both Jack and Thelma would be pleased if you made out a donation to the House of Charity, 32 West Pacific Ave. Spokane, Washington, 99201.

Please visit Jack’s online memorial to leave a message of condolence at


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