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In memoriam: Former Board Member Ted Utchen dies at 91

Ted Utchen

Theodore M. (Ted) Utchen, a former director-at-large of FFRF’s Executive Board, died on March 4 at the age of 91.

He was born in St. Paul, Minn., on June 25, 1929, to Joseph and Lillian Utchen. Ted grew up in Hibbing, Minn., Petersburg, Va., and Oshkosh, Wis., where he graduated from high school in 1946, and Topeka, Kan. In 1950, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kansas with a degree in political science. Ted served as 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and was discharged from service in 1955. He received his J.D. and his LLM in constitutional law from the University of Michigan School of Law where he was elected to the Order of the Coif Honor Society.

Ted engaged in trial practice in Wichita, Kan., before becoming a trust officer with the National Bank of Tulsa. In 1964, he and his wife Esther moved to Chicago when Ted joined The Northern Trust Company as a trust and probate officer. Ted and his wife made their home in Wheaton, Ill., where Ted lived until his death. Ted and his wife had two children, Frank and Kathy.

In 1968, Ted left the Northern Trust Company to join the law department of Miami Corporation, where he worked until retiring from his position as vice president and general counsel in 1990. After retiring from Miami Corporation, Ted served as an arbitrator for the Cook County and DuPage County Circuit Courts. He was an active member a several Chicago Bar Association committees.

In 1991, because of his interest in constitutional law, Ted became a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, emphasizing the separation of church and state. He was a member of the Executive Board from 2008-2012. He became a Lifetime Member in 2016.

Ted was also a member of the American Humanist Association, as well as The Theosophical Society of America.

Ted’s favorite charitable activity was his annual dictionary project where he would donate and bestow a dictionary upon every third-grade student at 32 suburban elementary schools. In presenting the dictionaries, Ted would teach the children that learning word choice and correct spelling at an early age would be a lifelong benefit. Ted was a self-proclaimed library addict; he called libraries his second home and he was pleased to support public libraries across many Chicago western suburbs.