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Adolph "Utz" Utzinger

October 14, 1929 January 31, 2019
Adolph "Utz" Utzinger
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Obituary for Adolph "Utz" Utzinger

In Loving Memory of Adolph “Utz” Utzinger
October 14, 1929 – January 31, 2019

Adolph (“Utz” or “Dr. Utz”) passed away peacefully on January 31, 2019. The past year-and-half since “Bunny” passed away after their 65 years together became increasingly difficult for Utz. He battled Alzheimer’s and fought his way back from several dips in his health before succumbing in his sleep. Despite those challenges, Utz was typically in good spirits. Though sometimes a jumble of real and imagined memories, even in his final days Utz engaged in conversation as much as possible. The “gift of gab” was a trait Utz and Bunny shared – sometimes to an excess!

Born and raised on a small family farm in Wisconsin, Utz was the son of recently arrived German immigrants, Ludwig (Lou) and Betty Utzinger. Lou worked as a carpenter, so Betty became quite the task master over Utz, his sister Marilynn and his brother Arnold. Chores for Utz started early – both in life and during each day. Among other things, Utz milked the cows and fed the chickens before heading off to grade school each morning. After school it was time to shovel the cow manure from the barn, complete other chores, then came dinner, and finally homework before bed.

Farm animals were not pets; they had to serve a purpose. Even the dogs were expected to sound the alarm and chase away any fox or raccoon that might dare to raid the henhouse. They also were companions as Utz went squirrel or rabbit hunting. Maybe that’s why Utz took such joy in raising dozens of Brittany Spaniels and indulging his boys in their quest to build a menagerie. More about that later.

Of a different time and background, Utz’ parents weren’t especially keen on formal education. Elementary school made sense and as Utz learned to read and write Betty learned English along with him. Middle school also was reasonable, and high school was tolerated. But when Utz announced he was going to college, his parents made clear he was on his own.
Even though he knew his parents hoped he would continue to work the farm, Utz knew that life was not for him. After tending dairy cows for most of his childhood, Utz despised the taste of milk. Ice Cream, however, was a different matter altogether. Utz especially enjoyed the great flavors from Scrumptious Ice Cream in Old Towne Arvada – Scott and Lisa’s candy store and ice cream parlor. Now that is special ice cream!

Utz used to grimace when telling about his parents finally buying a milking machine just days after he left home to attend Wisconsin State College in Platteville. His parents had impressed upon him the importance of hard work, but they also knew when to be practical. Those values served Utz well in college as excelled in his coursework while making ends meet working at a general store.

Earning degrees in both chemistry and physics, Utz wasn’t sure what to do with his educational background as graduation approached. Then one day an Army recruiting officer came to the campus. Utz always chuckled when telling about enlisting in the Army to get a “free bus ride” to the big city of Milwaukie. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And so Utz entered the army medical corps as a “non-comm” (non-commissioned officer) at the rank of “2nd lieuy” (2nd Lieutenant) instead of a private. Except for one tremendous stroke of luck, Utz’ time in the Army was uneventful.

It was New Year’s Eve 1951 and Utz got a two-day pass. A friend arranged a blind date for Utz and the four were set for a double-date to celebrate the holiday. Utz’ date was a smart, pretty woman who had attended college at Lacrosse – just a ways down the river from where Utz had attended Platteville. Like Utz, she was a Wisconsin native who was raised in Wisconsin Dells. And so it was, Utz the G.I. off the farm met Bunny the city girl from the Dells. Bunny always claimed the date ended with Utz “pouring” her onto the front porch of her parent’s house the next morning, ringing the doorbell and running away after getting her “woozy” on cocktails. Utz always belly-laughed at Bunny’s account of their first date, but he never refuted its accuracy. They dated every chance they could and married on September 13, 1952.

Bunny taught K-12 in a one room schoolhouse while Utz finished his term in the Army and then dental school at Marquette University. Housing for the young couple was at times quite primitive. Their tiny studio apartment in Milwaukie was a vast improvement from some of their earlier “homes” while in the service -- including a modified chicken coop! In those days, they often made a meal of canned beans and ham as they relied on Bunny’s salary as a teacher. Fortunately, the G.I. bill paid for most of Utz’ dental school expenses.

After Utz graduated from dental school, the couple moved to Colorado where “Dr. Utz” soon established his practice on Wadsworth Boulevard in Wheat Ridge. Now a six-lane thoroughfare with a middle turn lane, Wadsworth was then a dirt road. At about the same time Utz opened his office, Bunny gave birth to their first of five sons, Thomas, on July 4, 1957. Timothy was next to be born on November 28, 1958, followed by Terry on August 1, 1961, Todd on March 23, 1963 and Theodore (Tedd) on February 11, 1965.

The move to Colorado also marked the beginning of Utz’ hobby of raising Britany Spaniels for field and show competitions. For her birthday one year, Utz gave Bunny “Lady” – an orange-and-white American Brittany Spaniel that would be the first of many the couple would raise.
Those who knew Utz know that he seldom went halfway with anything. Lady soon had a litter of pups, most of which were sold to local hunters. That’s when Utz learned about field dog trials -- competitions to demonstrate a dog’s hunting skills. A new hobby was launched and eventually branched into dog shows to demonstrate obedience and appearance. While most of the dogs were professionally trained for the competitions, Utz was always active as an amateur handler. He developed a national reputation as a breeder with bloodlines drawn from as far away as California, Texas and even Canada to avoid the hazards of inbreeding. He was active in the American Kennel Club and served two terms as president of the American Brittany Spaniel Association. Utz and Bunny raised numerous show champions and field champions as well as several “dual champions” that excelled both at show and in the hunting demonstrations.

Utz’ highpoint came in 1963 when he went to “the nationals” where his dog “Rip” was judged best in breed for the entire country with Utz as the handler. Field trials became family get-aways, but as their boys grew up Utz & Bunny refocused their efforts on school and sporting events for the kids. A few times a year Utz was coaxed into serving as a judge at various field dog trials around the country, but after some back surgeries that at least made it possible to continue practicing dentistry Utz’ days of judging dog trials on horseback had to come to an end.

While Utz worked to build his practice, Bunny volunteered thousands of hours at Maple Grove Elementary, Manning Junior High, and Wheat Ridge Senior High School – sometimes at all three schools. Together they served several years as officers for the PTA and were always willing to help with any school event. They attended countless school plays, band performances and sporting events to the point of knowing each teacher, administrator and staff member by name as well as the parents of other kids.

One would think five boys and at least 5 or 6 dogs at the house would have been enough for any family. Not so. The kids, especially Tom and Tim, loved animals. Many “pets” were caught while at field dog trials or when hunting with Utz. From a three-foot alligator to tarantulas, nearly the entire alphabet was covered. There were, however, never any cows or chickens!

As the years went by and their boys grew up, less time had to be devoted to school functions. Bunny started working alongside Utz in the dental practice. For several years she worked “just part time” as his receptionist. As the boys started graduating from high school, Bunny transitioned to working full time as Utz’ receptionist/office manager for about 25 years before the two retired together.

Few people who knew them would ever say “Utz” or “Bunny” – it was always “Utz & Bunny” the couple. Together, they enjoyed collecting Native American art, dolls, clocks, antiques, glassware and whatever else caught their fancy. When they weren’t working or collecting together, they still played supporting roles for one another.

Most friends knew that Bunny nearly always had some knitting or stitching project in hand. Every holiday Bunny made dozens of small baskets to give to family and friends. What many people don’t know is that the plastic forms Bunny used to make each basket had to be cut to exact dimensions from larger sheets of plastic. Although Bunny did the stitching, it was usually Utz who cut the plastic forms to size. It was also Utz who filled bags with candy that Bunny then tied shut with bows of yarn to match each basket.

Best of all, Utz & Bunny loved to make the rounds as they delivered their baskets of candy and love. As they grew older we worried about Utz driving all over town, but their trips helped them stay connected with family and friends. They were both people-persons who thrived on human interaction. For 43 years as a dentist Utz cared for literally thousands of patients. Many families spanned multiple generations as patients. Utz & Bunny not only knew every patient, but also how they were related to other patients or friends. Utz & Bunny relished each opportunity to connect with family, friends, patients, neighbors, and even store clerks or folks who might happen to be standing in the checkout line with them.

For both Utz & Bunny, conversing was second nature if not reflexive. It’s no wonder they became a couple instantaneously and forever. Even as Bunny was in her final hours Utz held her hand and told her “I love you” one last time. Utz spent his final days with frequent visits from family and friends. We are especially grateful for the staffs of Greenridge Place Memory Care and Suncrest Hospice who provided such loving care for Utz & Bunny over the last couple of years.

Utz is preceded by:
Wife – Bunny (Lois Platt)
Parents – Ludwig and Betty Utzinger
Sons – Thomas & Timothy
He is survived by:
Brother – Arnold
Sister - Marilynn
Son and Daughter-in-law – Terry and Deborah
Son and Daughter-in-law – Todd and Barbara
Son and Daughter-in-law – Tedd and Lee Ann
Grandchildren – Justin Eisenach, Lisa Spears (husband Scott), Jessica Utzinger, Katie Utzinger, Michael Utzinger, Patrick Utzinger and Claire Utzinger
Great Grandchildren – Jett and Gunner Spears (Scott & Lisa’s boys) and Astrid (Katie’s daughter)

A celebration of Utz’ life will be on Wednesday, February 6th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at School House Kitchen & Libations, 5660 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada, Colorado 80002.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Utz’ name to the Denver Dumb Friends League at www.ddfl.org.


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Previous Events

Service

Wednesday

6

Feb

4:00 PM 2/6/2019 4:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 2/6/2019 7:00:00 PM
School House Kitchen & Libations

5660 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard
Arvada, Colorado 80002

School House Kitchen & Libations
5660 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard Arvada 80002 Colorado
United States
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