In Memoriam Bill Luttrell
Scarred by war's slaughter, Bill Luttrell lived
By Holly Mullen
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
"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
Wineriter is 80. Other members are well into their seventh and
Martha always hosts the meal, and the menu never changes: fresh
waffles, scrambled eggs, fruit, juice and a bottomless pot of
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
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.