Amherst Magazine

Leonard M. Utz '58

Leonard M. Utz '58 died June 20, 2010.
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Len Utz '58 (1)
Len -there's that smile!

In the Summer 1995 "Amherst" class notes, I wrote that Len Utz, after 33 years in retail, had reached the well-earned position of Director of Stores for 14 of Nieman Marcus's 27 stores. Running one store seemed demanding enough to me; being in charge of 14 was something else. Yet, I went on to say, "Len sounded extremely calm and collected, which is how he always sounded."

Len Utz '58 (2)
Len’s high school
basketball picture

Those notes went on to say that his wife, Sandy (Mt. Holyoke '58), admitted "He liked to get away to a little old fishing club when he could.... and someday, he thinks they'd like to retire to northern California." Both Pete Kunz and Marc Richman recall fly-fishing with Len at Amherst. "The three of us would head out on opening day," says Pete, "probably an hour after the stream down beyond The Grist Mill on the Mt. Holyoke road had just been stocked."

Len Utz '58 (3)
At the C.I. at Mt. Holyoke in 1958
(appeared in MHC yearbook)

Len did retire in fall 1999 (just before what would have been his 40th Christmas in retail) to Longmont, Colo., where he could do the kind of peaceful fishing he really enjoyed. But his well-deserved enjoyment was cut short by medical problems that sapped his mental and eventually physical capacities. Starting in 2000, Len began to have memory problems, and by 2007 Sandy needed to enlist help at home.  In November 2009, Len entered Life Care Center of Longmont, where he died peacefully from Alzheimer's disease June 20, 2010.

Len Utz '58 (4)
Len and Sandy's wedding day,
August 30, 1958,
in Hartford, Ct.

Pete, who roomed with Len senior year at Beta, had similar memories of Len.  "He was steady and solid as anything, warm, always exuding friendship." Marc recalls his time with Len, "We were - by self acclamation - the four musketeers (Lenny, Jim French, Worth Fauver and me) throughout our freshman and sophomore years and then at Beta.... I remember Len as the gentle man and gentle soul among us." He added, "I cannot recall ever hearing Len utter someone's name in vain.  If he couldn't speak well of someone, he said nothing. I'm sure these unusual attributes stayed with him his entire adult life."  Len exhibited these same characteristics throughout his business career, his personal relationships and strong family life.

Len Utz '58 (5)
Len and family on the St. Lawrence
River, about 1964

"[He was] a truly wonderful man.... his friendship, leadership, and personal character and integrity," wrote Len's pastor in Texas. Another Texas friend recalled "his stories and that fabulous laugh.... the look of sheer joy on that man's face shone like a six-year-old on Christmas morning."

Len Utz '58 (6)
Len at his office, circa 198

Len was born July 5, 1936, in Mineola, N.Y., and graduated from Port Washington (N.Y.) High School.  After obtaining his MBA at Harvard (1960), he began a career in retail at Sibley, Lindsay and Curr Department Stores store chain, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., and familiarly known as Sibleys.  In 1966 he joined Lord and Taylor in New York City, moving his family of four to his old hometown on Long Island. Len was promoted from buyer to merchandise manager and vice president, with two divisions reporting to him. In 1978, "an opportunity opened up in Dallas - a big move for us Yankees," wrote Len for our 25th.  Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Tex., hired him - his corporate home until retirement as Senior Vice President of Stores.

The testimonials Len received from his fellow works demonstrate his special qualities. One man wrote, "He was a mentor and friend to so many of us at NM. My great respect for him will never waiver. The Utz family should be proud of the integrity and decency of this man."  Another fellow employee added, "Leonard is my NM parental DNA.... He changed my life."

During his long illness, Len retained those same values. "He faced adversity with the greatest attitude," wrote one friend.  "He left me with a lasting lesson about staying positive and living with dignity."

In addition to his wife, Len is survived by his son, David, of Tahoe City, Calif., daughter, Debbie, of Longmont and two grandsons, Shane and Connor Ryan.  Memorial services were held June 29, 2010, at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Longmont.

- Allen Clark

 
Len Utz '58 (7)
Len Utz '58 (8)
Len Utz '58 (9)
Len and Sandy all dressed up
in Dallas for re-release of
the movie "Giant”
50th anniversary, Aug. 30, 2008,
front: Sandy and Len; from left rear:
daughter-in-law Jeanne, son David,
grandsons Shane and Connor,
son-in-law Pat and daughter Debby.
Len, where he liked to be,
ready to fish:
Chama, N.M., circa 1996
 

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