Roy G. “Skip” Utter died peacefully Jan. 12, 2015, in Murrieta, Calif.
Skip was born April 12,1924, to parents Leonard and Alice Utter in Big Pine, Calif., and grew up there with brothers Bud and Dick on beautiful ranch land in the Owens Valley. The freedom of a boy’s life growing up in those times set forth a foundation of adventure that Skip was happily able to pursue for all of his life.
California history forced the family to move south, to Los Angeles, but not before an extraordinary encounter with actor Wallace Berry, who was filming a movie in the Black Hills area of the Southern Owens valley. Wallace was a pilot, and in 1934 flew into the valley close to where Skip and a friend were playing. Upon landing, he saw the boys, and asked if they wanted to go for a ride. Skip jumped at the chance, while his buddy fled for home.
On this day, Skip found the passion for flying that would stay with him all the rest of his life. From that point on Skip dedicated his life to flying aircraft of all kinds, and during World War II, his advanced skills put him in a position to instruct many young pilots. After the war, he found his way to Alaska, where he had his own flying school and an operation flying in the Alaska bush. In 1951 he was hired by the young and fledging airline, Pacific Northern, thus ushering in his participation in the modern commercial airline industry. P.N. Air became Western Airlines in 1967, and Western became Delta Airlines.
After accumulating more than 35,000 hours of career flight, Skip retired on his 60th birthday in 1982.
Skip was a homesteader and longtime resident of Homer, along with his beloved wife, Helen. Alaska, and in particular, Homer, most duplicated the boyhood freedom he experienced growing up in the Owens Valley. He loved Alaska, and all his friends and neighbors in Homer.
Skip was preceded in death by Helen, and is survived by his brothers Bud and wife Billy, and their wonderful families, and Dick and his family; his life friend Mary Oldham, and George and Jimi Wilson.
Contributions in memory of Skip’s incredible life can be donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation, P.O. Box 50008, Studio City CA 91614-5001, or garysinisefoundation.com.