Joe Utara 1937-2022

Joe Utara 1937-2022

Joe Sigitas Utara, 85, of Rio Rancho, N.M., passed away Wednesday, June 29, 2022, at Presbyterian Rust Hospital after a short fight with cancer.

He was born near Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, on Jan. 6, 1937. His parents were the late Charles Utara, formerly of Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, and the late Ona Utara, formerly of Melrose Park, Ill. He was also preceded in death by brothers, Peter of Melrose Park, Ill., Gus of Clinton, Iowa, and Victor of Chicago/Topeka/Rio Rancho, N.M.; three nephews, John, Peter Jr. and Raymond, all of Chicago, Ill.; and a niece, Kazi Elrich, of River Forest, Ill. 

Joe immigrated from Lithuania via Germany in 1949 and became a United States citizen. He served as a photographer in the United States Air Force at Forbes Air Forbes Base, Topeka. He worked for Santa Fe Railroad as a computer operator and supervisor until 1989, when he retired. Joe and his wife, Vera, moved from Topeka to Rio Rancho in 2008.

He was an active member of St John Vianney Catholic Church in Rio Rancho. He served as a hospital EM at his former church, St Matthew Catholic Church in Topeka. He was a dedicated husband and provider.

He married Vera Elsie Zacharias on Aug. 18, 1972, in Topeka. They celebrated more than 49 years of marriage. She survives of the home.

Joe was cremated. Graveside memorial services and inurnment will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 18 in Denison Cemetery. A rosary was recited Thursday, July 21, with mass following at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Rio Rancho, N.M. Mercer Funeral Home in Holton is in charge of local arrangements.

To leave a special message for the family, please visit


The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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