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Garrick Utley, 'Quintessential Foreign Correspondent,' Dies

Garrick Utley in 2012.
Mark Lennihan
Garrick Utley in 2012.

If reporting from foreign lands is important to you, then Garrick Utley is someone you most likely admired over the past four or five decades.

So it's with some sadness that we pass along word that the veteran newsman, who in the mid-'60s was NBC News' first bureau chief in Saigon and later went on to a career that took him around the world and to the moderator's chair on Meet the Press, has died.

He was 74.

NBC's The Today Show, which paid tribute to Utley Friday morning, says he had been through "a long battle with cancer." He was, the show says, the "quintessential foreign correspondent" who spoke several languages and was comfortable reporting from anywhere.

Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw writes of his friend that after the tour in Saigon, Utley "ran our London and Paris bureaus before returning home to anchor a weekly magazine show and serve as fill-in anchor for John Chancellor on Nightly. Garrick was a man for all seasons — a national political correspondent, moderator of Meet the Press and anchor of Weekend TODAY. Always the complete gentleman, he was a gifted linguist, speaking flawless German, French and Spanish — and sharing his passion for opera with colleagues and NPR audiences."

Utley also reported for ABC news during his long career and for CNN from 1997 to 2002. From 2003 to 2011, The Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y., says, he was president of the Levin Institute of the State University of New York, which aims to promote "thoughtful engagement and an active response to 'globalization' and its impact on New York State." Since the fall of 2012, Utley had taught at the State University of New York College at Oswego.

His voice might also be familiar to public radio listeners because of his appearances on America Abroad.

We'll end with a video clip that strikes us as a fitting way to remember Utley. He was anchoring NBC News the day the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, and smoothly shifted as word came in that former President Lyndon Johnson had died.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.