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Alumni Happenings - September 2005
Grand County High School

Brian and Kelsie Backus
attended GCHS over 15 years ago

by Jeff Richards

High school sweethearts Kelsie Holyoak and Brian Backus didn’t get married until four years after high school, and more than seven years after their first date (when Brian was 15 and she was 16).

“I had gone up to college at USU in Logan,” recalls Kelsie. “Things had kind of cooled off, but we were still friends and would call each other. Then on my 22nd birthday, he surprised me with a romantic date in Salt Lake City. He had cleaned himself up and cut off his long hair.” The Backuses were married in November of that same year (1993).

Kelsie finished her nursing degree and began working at Moab’s Allen Memorial Hospital as a registered nurse. She primarily works in Labor and Delivery and is looking forward to a new hospital being built here in Moab within the next few years. Meantime, Brian, who graduated in 1990 (a year after Kelsie), worked at Chips Grand Tire during and after high school, followed by a stint at Ballard Construction. He later completed his peace officers’ POST training and has been working as a deputy for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office since 1996.

The Backuses have three children: daughter Kesley, who turns 9 in September, daughter Kortney, 6, and son Clynn, who is nearly 4.

Brian’s parents moved to Moab from Orem when he was in kindergarten and have resided here ever since. Kelsie’s folks (Gary and Patricia Holyoak) raised eight children in Moab and also continue to live here.

Both Kelsie and Brian have fond memories of Grand County schools. Kelsie in particular enjoyed the outdoor education classes taught by Ray Olsen and Barry Miller. “We went backpacking, rock climbing, and even on a river trip down Westwater Canyon,” she recalls.

Always the avid outdoorswoman, Kelsie also grew up riding horses and was rodeo queen and a competitor. She also participated in track, gymnastics, the “Sounds Grand” chorus, and was a GCHS cheerleader all four years of high school.

Brian was also actively involved in high school athletics, participating in football, basketball, golf and a bit of wrestling as well.

Even so, a series of unfortunate circumstances prevented Kelsie from graduating from Grand County High School in the spring of 1989. Instead, she got her diploma from San Juan High School in Blanding, after attending that school for the last couple of months of her senior year.

“It’s still a sore spot,” recalls Kelsie. “I cried and cried at graduation because I wanted to walk with my classmates. To this day, a lot of people don’t know that I didn’t graduate from Grand County, even though that’s where I spent most of my time.” The situation involved disciplinary actions against members of the cheerleading squad, of which Kelsie was the captain. After moving to Blanding temporarily that spring, Kelsie (a consistent A student) managed a 4.0 GPA at San Juan and earned eight hours of college credit as well. Even so, she still considers herself a Red Devil, rather than a Bronco.

Her cheerleading spirit still is evident, as the Backus family enjoys attending GCHS sports events, including the Red Devils’ recent 35-6 home victory over rival Monticello. Kelsie’s older sister Kammy is the wife of GCHS head coach Dennis Wells, now in his fourth year of coaching the Devils. The Wells family lived in Eureka, Nev. for several years, winning a number of state football championships at the 1A level, playing eight-man football.

“Dennis’ dream was always to come back to Grand County High and win as a coach here,” notes Kelsie. In addition to running the football program, Wells also coaches wrestling and track at GCHS, and has helped coach baseball.

“I’m a big person for school spirit. I have to yell and scream and do all the cheers with the cheerleaders,” acknowledges Kelsie. “My girls and nieces love to join right in as well.” Brian, for his part, often brings a cowbell and rings it loudly throughout the game. “You can hear that baby all over the place,” he says.

The Backuses also have their own horse business, KB Horseman. Kelsie gives riding lessons several times a week, and they offer horse boarding as well as breeding services. They keep 22 horses on their property in Spanish Valley, just south of the county line. They also grow their own hay in the fields behind their house.

The Backus family enjoys being in the outdoors, especially four-wheeling, hunting, horseback riding, and visiting the family property in the La Sals. “I could spend all day just riding my horse up in the mountains,” says Kelsie.

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