Rev. James David Back




Image of James David Back and wife Virginia

JD and Ginny

Rev. James David Back (JD to all who knew him) passed away on May 27, 2022, of what he called “everything going haywire all at once.” At 90, JD was blessed to remain able to walk and live independently until just a couple of weeks before the end. He sang hymns with visiting family in the days before he passed, and looked forward to “going home” and seeing Ginny again (Virginia, his wife of 65 years, predeceased him in 2018).

JD Back was born in Ozark, Missouri, in 1931, to Willy T. Back and Gladys Meadows Back. JD graduated from Ozark High School and Missouri State University. During college, he met and married VIrginia Pumphrey, and together they dedicated their lives to Christian service. Also at this time, JD was ordained and served as a pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Ozark.

In 1956, through the Southern Baptist Home Missions Board, JD and Ginny were offered their first missionary opportunity at Copper Mine Baptist Mission, on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. After three years at Copper Mine, JD left to attend the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, where he received his degree in Divinity in 1962. He and his wife then spent more than five years serving as missionaries at the White Mountain Apache Baptist Mission on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona.

Young JD

JD volunteered for a three-year Army tour of duty as a chaplain, and spent 1967-68 in Vietnam with the First Cavalry Division. His overseas service left him with life-long PTSD; he was a vocal proponent of PTSD treatment for veterans of all wars.

In 1970, after his military service, the Home Mission Board sent JD and Ginny to Alaska. For the first couple of years there, JD served as a flying “circuit preacher,” serving as pastor at three Athabascan villages that were only accessible by bush plane. Afterwards, JD and Ginny served as missionaries at Friendship Baptist Mission in Fairbanks, where they also ran an English as a Second Language (ESL) school for the foreign-born wives of servicemen.

JD later served as State Director of Missions in Alaska for a number of years before retiring to Oregon in 1994. They enjoyed “snowbirding” with their friends down to Yuma, AZ, during Oregon’s rainy winters.

JD was a great storyteller, born into a family of storytellers; he never preached a sermon without including a good tale or two. In 2018, many of JD’s stories were gathered into a book of autobiographical essays, “Serving God and Country: A Missionary’s Memoirs.” Friends and family loved when JD would break into song spontaneously; he often serenaded friends at his retirement home, for birthdays and special events. He had a beautiful singing voice and would sing solos for church services; one of his favorites was “How Great Thou Art.”

JD is survived by his three children, Maribeth (and her husband Dave), David (and his wife Lou Anne) and Stuart. He is also survived by four grandchildren (Jennifer, Tiffany, Sarah, and Eryn); and three great grandchildren (Christine, Shelby, and Xena); as well as his brother, John Back.

A memorial service for JD Back will be held on Saturday, June 18th, at 2 PM at Bear Creek Community Church, 18931 NE 143rd St., Woodinville, WA. JD and his wife Virginia will be interred together at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.

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