Burton “Burt” Anson Utley, Jr.

Burton “Burt” Anson Utley, Jr.


Burt Utley, beloved husband, father and rancher, died on his ranch at the age of 74.  Burt was raised by his grandparents, Mae and Noble Renshaw on a ranch near Freer, Texas.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 at the age of 18, served a tour of duty in Vietnam in Reconnaissance, and also served with the Republic of Korean Marines in their Reconnaissance Force, the White Tigers in 1969.  After returning to the States, he was sent to Naval Justice School and was a certified stenographer and sent to work for the Judge Advocate General with Top Security Clearance.  He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps with the rank of Sergeant in 1971, but his military brothers were never far from his thoughts.    

He went on to obtain his Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree from Texas A&I University in Kingsville.  In his early post-collegiate career, he was a high school teacher, coach and elementary principal.  He took particular joy in shaping young minds and often spoke of the children he helped become adults.  He believed in the power of education and wanted the very best for our children and the teachers who devoted their lives to their development, so he served two terms on the Pettus Independent School District Board and one term as President of the Board.

In 1970, he married his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Mary Helen McNair.  Together, they raised one daughter, Sarah Jane, and spent a lifetime together – a union shaped through adventure, hard work, and thousands of ordinary days that turned into an extraordinary lifetime of profound togetherness.  Burt found God in nature and so they built a cattle ranch that raised award winning Registered Santa Gertrudis cattle.  While Sarah Jane was growing up, he found delight in lovingly devoting his time to her 4-H projects and showing Santa Gertrudis heifers across the country.  Burt had endless energy and unconventional pastimes.  He was adventurous and a risk-taker – he loved to technical ice climb and snow ski, often out of bounds.  He found freedom in flying his plane – and took mischievous joy in sometimes scaring his passengers with dramatic drops or rolls. He took pride in his marksmanship and recalled the best hunt he ever had – he bugled an elk for almost an hour and shot him at over 500 yards across a ravine with my grandfather’s old 30-06 rifle.  He will be remembered for his devotion to his family, loyalty to his fellow Marines and brothers in arms, and willingness to help a friend or neighbor. 

We give thanks for the gift of his life and take comfort that as Burt now goes to guard heaven’s gates, his leatherneck brothers await to welcome their loyal compatriot home.

Burt will be dearly missed by his wife of 54 years Mary Helen; daughter, Sarah Jane Utley and her soulmate Rudy Palomo of Houston; uncle, Henry R. Sling of Corpus Christi; aunt, Joyce Cole of Corpus Christi; sister, Cindy Thompson and her husband, Tim of Corpus Christi; and nieces, Toni Davis and her husband, James of Corpus Christi; Terri Faver, of Corpus Christi; and Kimberly Kelly and her husband Patrick of Tomball, as well as many other close friends.  He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Mae and Noble Renshaw and uncle, W.G. “Dub” Cole, Jr.

Memorial Services will be held Friday, March 1, 2024 at 10AM in the Eckols Funeral Home Chapel. Inurnment will follow in the Choate Cemetery in Choate, TX.

Memorial donations may be made in leu of flowers to St. Jude Children’s Network or the Salvation Army.