Landscapes 15

Nels Backstrom

1933 ~ 2022 (age 89)


With great sadness, our Father Nels Backstrom, 89, of Milwaukie, Oregon, passed away from heart failure on July 02, 2022.


Nels was born on March 03, 1933 in Portland, Oregon as a first generation American to Swedish immigrants, Nels and Maria Backstrom. His parents originally resided in Astoria, OR,  and eventually settled in Portland, OR.  Nels had a partner in life, Linda Relyea, who is deceased. He had five siblings; Einar Backstrom, Herbert Backstrom, Jane Tomjack, and Robert Backstrom who are deceased; and is survived by his youngest sibling, Donna Hatcher; three of his four children, Eric Backstrom, Carl Backstrom, and Loriann Rinato; his second child, Lana Brechbiel passed away in 2015. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Joshua Brechbiel, Tatiana Hen, Benjamin Koloski; three great-grandchildren, Elizabeth Pankonin, Liam Pankonin, Meilani Raney; and his former wife, Christine Radabaugh.


He comes from a nostalgic era during the Great Depression where every penny counted. Nels learned valuable work ethics early in life as a newspaper delivery boy, where he learned to earn and pay for everything he owned. A very strong man who could walk up stairs on his hands, Nels was always the one who would protect others. He continued his strength well into his 80’s, still enjoying physical activities with loved ones such as hiking and camping with his children and grandchildren.


All four brothers in Nels’ family enlisted in the military. Shortly after graduating from Franklin High School in Portland, Nels served in the Air Force from May 1, 1953 - April 30, 1957, including post war assignments in South Korea. Utilizing the skills acquired from his Air Force service and obtaining proper certifications, he began working for Southern Pacific Railroad in California  as an electronics technician. In 1965 until his retirement in 1996, he worked for  the City of Portland  where he installed and maintained communications equipment. One of his favorite jobs for the city was climbing radio towers, including the one at Council Crest Park. 


Nels was a man of many actions and the epitome of the saying “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”. He was a man constantly helping others throughout his life. Nels was known by his family and friends for “making his rounds”. It wasn’t uncommon for him to visit every sibling in one evening. He was a very sincere person who built and maintained many genuine and strong relationships. He had a very inventive mind and built many things on his own. He set high standards for himself like returning borrowed items to friends and family in better shape than when he received them. Nels had a dry sense of humor with the wittiest punch lines. Nels was a man loved by many and will be deeply missed on Earth.


A Visitation will be 3:00 to 8:00 p.m., Monday, July 18, 2022 at Stehn Family Chapels, Milwaukie, OR. A Cemetery Service with full Military Honors will be 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, OR (arrive at 1:30 through gate #1, check into the administrative office for a map to the staging area.)


Nels Backstrom: Genuine Grace and Love



To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Nels Backstrom, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Nels

We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Stehn Family Chapels

Join in honoring their life - plant a memorial tree


July 18, 2022

3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Stehn Family Chapels Milwaukie Tribute Center
2906 SE Harrison Street
Milwaukie, OR 97222

Cemetery Service with full Military Honors
July 19, 2022

2:00 PM
Willamette National Cemetery
11800 SE Mount Scott Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97086

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