Russel Benson Backus, of Fairfax, Virginia, is currently in training as a Wiki missionary.
He was raised in Orem, Utah, U.S.A., where the ancestors of his parents were among the first pioneers to established farms on the desolate land between the Provo and Pleasant Grove settlements. His forebears were from England, Ireland, Denmark, and Germany.
After receiving B.S. and M.S. degrees from Utah State University, Russel worked for consulting engineering firms in California, Idaho, and Colorado as a licensed Civil Engineer. He moved on to serve in the U.S. Agency for International Development, living for fourteen years in Pakistan, Egypt, and Kazakhstan, and supporting programs in Africa for eight years while posted in Washington, D.C.
Following retirement, Russel and his wife served an L.D.S. Church mission in Hungary. They later provided worldwide support as FamilySearch missionaries, first in the area of historical records and then research. As FamilySearch patrons requested assistance and provided feedback, Russel came to recognize the value of the Wiki in describing the research process, providing articles that complement historical record collections, and offering other information about locating family history records.
Most recently, he spent three years documenting the lives of ancestors who had kept personal records. He digitized their records and made them available for descendants, then donated the original records to relevant libraries along with biographical commentary.