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The Carletonian

Classmates Remember “Meet the Press” Host Garrick Utley ’61

<uary 21st, 2014, Garrick Utley ‘61 passed away. For 30 years, Utley worked as a NBC foreign correspondent and news anchor. Utley’s gaunt figure and assuring voice guided generations of American viewers through international affairs, from the battlefields of Vietnam to Berlin during the fall of the Soviet Union. He later served as NBC bureau chief in London and Paris. Underlying this impressive career was Utley’s personality- calm, intelligent, and faithful to the truth.

Graduating in 1961, Utley did not forget his Alma mater, serving on the Carleton College Board of Directors from 1983 to 2007.

During these years, Linguistics Professor Mike Flynn enjoyed conversing with Utley at Board-Faculty events.

Garrick Utley studied Government at Carleton, long before Linguistics was offered, so Utley would ask, with genuine interest, for Professor Flynn to explain the field to him. “I was most impressed by him being a great listener,” said Professor Flynn.

Professor Flynn, an adolescent during the Vietnam War, also recalls Utley’s work with NBC. During a time when the complexities of American foreign policy were underreported, Utley pursued truth with an intelligent and inquisitive intent. “He would give real context to what was actually happening,” said Flynn.     

Utley’s interest in journalism found expression at Carleton. Don Davidson, ‘61, roomed with Utley his freshman, junior, and senior years, and also co-hosted a radio show with him. “Our junior year we did Sunday night program on KARL -news (he was terrific) and I did sports (after a fashion). He knew the ins and outs of the then KARL system as an experienced broadcaster,” wrote Davidson in an email.

Utley, like so many of us, had his own academic weaknesses. “I distinctly remember that he had a real aversion to math, but could seemingly soak up languages like a sponge,” writes Davidson. Utley was fluent in French, German, and Russian.

One can easily imagine Utley on Carleton’s campus. He participated in many clubs- he served as the president of the Carleton International Relations Club.

David Geilen, ‘61, recalls the IRC club as Utley’s “bailiwick”. “We both participated in a mock collegiate United Nations session in Madison, Wisconsin one year, I remember, along with other club members, but we had a different take on it,” wrote Geilen in an email. “I think we represented England, and I was all for trying to use the conference to build bridges between countries”

But Garrick said, ‘No, we’re representing England’s point of view, and they don’t approve of that country’s position.’ I was more the idealistic student and he was already aware of the ‘real politique’ way of the world.”

Utley’s Carleton career expanded wider than the traceable roots of his career. At a towering 6’6’’, Utley played goalie for the club soccer team.

He earned the nickname “Guts” for his propensity to save with his stomach. And Utley, a lifetime music fan, also brought his own taste in music to Carleton. “He introduced us to Chet Atkins’ music at a time when we were cranking out Harry Belafonte on the record player,” writes Davidson.    

Garrick Utley shared a sincere and intelligent approach to life, so familiar to the Carleton community, with the forefront of American news media.

“He really was a great guy and I will truly miss him,” wrote Davidson. “As several in our class have agreed, he was a Man for All Seasons and a real gentleman.”

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