Bill Luttrell





In Memoriam     Bill Luttrell

Scarred by war's slaughter, Bill Luttrell lived for peace
By Holly Mullen
Tribune Columnist
July 17, 2005

Bill Luttrell died quietly in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, believing until the end that the world can be a better place.

His best friends were caught off guard by the news. Bill was 83. The former salesman and self-described compulsive gambler had been living with prostate cancer, but people say that wasn't what killed him.

"He was very tired," says Ray Unrath, a longtime friend. "He was ready to go."

Bill was the driving force behind Martha's Luncheon, a group of 10 pals that has gathered every other Friday for 30 years in the Avenues home of Martha Stewart to gab about politics, world events and a host of liberal causes. Martha is 90; retired broadcaster Flo Wineriter is 80. Other members are well into their seventh and eighth decades.

Martha always hosts the meal, and the menu never changes: fresh waffles, scrambled eggs, fruit, juice and a bottomless pot of coffee.

It fell on Bill for decades to arrange guest speakers for the group, and he did so with the same drive he employed for his other great passion: spreading the word of the World Federalist Organization, now known as Citizens United for Global Solutions. In a nutshell, the world federalist movement espouses enforceable international law in achieving world peace. In keeping with that belief, Bill was an avid supporter of the United Nations, more than ever in recent years as the body has been the object of criticism.

Bill's fervor, says Unrath, grew out of his military service in World War II, where his best friend was killed in action.

"Bill kept a shrine for that friend in his apartment and told many people that event fueled his desire to become involved in world federalism."

Bill had a head of silver hair and was built like a bear. He served for a time on the Utah Humane Society board of directors and as a precinct chairman for the Utah Democratic Party for 45 years. He saw diplomacy as the solution, never as the problem.

"My dad truly believed that world peace was possible, and joining the World Federalists was almost a requirement for friendship with him," says Bill's son, Mark Luttrell, an archaeologist in Seward, Alaska. Another son, Jeff Luttrell, lives in Princeton, N.J. Bill and his wife, Jeanne, were divorced in 1981. She died last year.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson met Bill so long ago he cannot recall the moment. "He was an avowed atheist, but in a way he did have a religion, and it was his persistence," Anderson says. "He was a tireless volunteer for my 1996 congressional campaign. And on a social level, there are few people I've known in life who have been driven by the most idealistic notions of our role in this world.

"He was a charming man."

That charm came with foibles, too. Bill spoke openly at Martha's Luncheon of his addiction to gambling. He played poker compulsively and made no excuses for his failure to overcome the problem.

"Bill always said poker was his great weakness," says Wineriter. "He told us of all the times he tried to fight it, but being a true humanist, he took responsibility for it."

And there is Wineriter's favorite delicious irony about his friend: "Bill was a devout atheist, but early in his life he made a living selling Bibles door-to-door."

Anyway, it didn't much matter to Bill that he spent money at Wendover rather than on other material goods. "He didn't have a big car or a big boat. He lived in a small apartment," says Unrath. "He played cards and he made politics a daily passion."

Bill's remains were cremated last week. A memorial service in his honor is being planned for October.

Page by @Com  22-04-2011