George Utter (June 3, 1922 - March 17, 2011)

A Tribute to George Utter at his Memorial Service (March 23, 2011),
Reprised on Lantern Hill for the Vernal Equinox, 2012

by WMM Squire Peter Leibert

George was my friend. I first met him when he came with Anne to my parent's house for dinner almost 50 years ago. My parents had been singing in the Chorus of Westerly and they had made friends with Anne and George. We were all sitting in the living room and Anne and George were on the couch where George was asleep and gently snoring. Years later, my mother remembered that night as a time of relaxed close friendship when she remarked how really wonderful it was that Anne had not gotten upset with George and at the time, Anne said "George had a terribly difficult day at work" and let him sleep. George had a good sense of who his real friends were and was confident that an outrageous act probably would not upset them, although occasionally it did. Most of you know what I am talking about.

I don't believe I ever saw George truly angry. He certainly could be annoyed and with his wry smile he would let you know that he was "on to you" or, he simply let you know with a friendly smile that he really didn't care - "yeah, yeah, yeah." I have never met a more complicated person, complicated in the best sense of the word. Many of you know of his passions, devotions, family, and history, his collections and ah, yes, Morris Dancing. What possessed him to become involved with Morris probably developed through English Country Dancing and Anne's urging. And dance he did for close to 35 years. He organized 3 Morris tours of England and one tour of Scotland. He published a News Letter for the Westerly Morris Men for many years and typically managed to upset a "new subscriber" (the Country Dance and Song Society) with an issue that portrayed a female Morris dancer - naked from the waist up. They immediately cancelled their subscription. George, George, George, you were a invigorating tonic for all of us.

The Westerly Men danced and sang for George two nights before he died. I believe he knew we were there. I placed my bells on top of his bed covers over his very thin legs so that Anne would hear him when he was on his way; so that the Angels would be aware: George is coming!

The Late George Utter Dancing on Lantern Hill

The Late George Utter Dancing on Lantern Hill

Click HERE for a high resolution scan of the original photo.

For a more full accounting of George's life, see The Westerly Sun Obituary.

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Tribute copyright © 2011 by Peter Leibert. All rights reserved.