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James Walter Utter passed away peacefully at his home in New London, WI on April 23rd, 2023. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Janet Utter, his sister Nancy Carlos, his son John Utter and his daughter Deon Utter, 5 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. He is also survived by 3 stepchildren and their 8 children, whom he viewed as family.
Jim ‘The Dog’ Utter was a man among men. He was born to Walter and Sylvia Utter in Washington, D.C. on January 28th, 1949. Some time later, the family relocated to the Amery, WI area where Jim attended school. He was an excellent athlete, played football, and excelled at wrestling. After graduating from Amery High School, Jim went on to Eau Claire Tech to be trained as an Industrial Draftsman, and then to receive a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls in 1974.
The sport of wrestling became something that Jim formed a lifelong love for and connection to. One of his greatest personal athletic accomplishments was participating in the 1968 US Olympic Wrestling Trials. Yet, Jim would have the most impact in wrestling when he was teaching others. Coaching paired Jim’s love of the sport with his love for education, and many young men benefited from his influence both on and off the mat. Jim earned High School Coach of the Year honors while coaching in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Idaho. Throughout his career he coached 3 high school All Americans and a had a lifetime winning percentage better than 78%.
Jim was a hound man and an avid outdoorsman. He loved running behind his dogs, whether chasing bears, lions, coyotes, or rabbits. From the Northwoods of Wisconsin to the sheer mountain cliffs of Idaho, Jim spent countless hours with innumerable friends pursuing whatever was in season, and on occasion, even what wasn’t.
Jim was a schoolteacher and carpenter. His love of the trades and desire to help young people led him to teach high-school shop, and outside of the school year Jim often worked in construction. His unique ability to improvise on the jobsite moved him to coin a new phrase that those who knew him will no doubt continue to use. If a job was completed and functional, despite perhaps not having the ideal tools and materials at his disposal, Jim would say that it had been “Utterized”.
Some suggest that Jim earned his nickname as ‘The Dog’ due to his somewhat surly disposition, and that may be true. Still, dogs also manifest the endearing qualities of loyalty and love, and Jim displayed these qualities to a large degree. He loved and supported his wife dearly and was a loyal friend to many. Those who knew him will never forget his irrepressible laugh, his generosity, and his love of a good story. He will be missed.
Memorial arrangements to be announced. Cards can be sent to Janet Utter.
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