Victor Utgoff

Obituary of Victor A. Utgoff

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Victor Alan "Vic" Utgoff, a cherished father, grandfather, and friend to many. Vic left us peacefully at the age of 85 on February 29, with his daughters and wife at his bedside holding his hands.  


Vic was born in 1938 to Victor Victorovich Utgoff and Margaret Sniffen Utgoff.  Commander Utgoff was a naval test pilot, so Vic and his siblings (Carl, Alexandra, and Paul) moved frequently,  spending time in California, Hawaii, and elsewhere.  Vic learned to make friends anywhere, later recalling, “I learned to always ask the prettiest girl in school to the dance.  I realized everyone else was too scared.”


Vic dedicated his career to learning, and serving his country by shaping defense policy.  He earned his S.B. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT in 1960 and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1970.  He served on the National Security Council during the Carter Administration and played an instrumental role as a strategic advisor to the President, including on the decision to cancel the B-1 bomber program.  He spent decades thinking and writing about how the world could avoid a catastrophic exchange of nuclear weapons.  He served with distinction at the Institute for Defense Analysis from 1981 to 2023, where he received the Goodpaster Award for excellence in research, the think tank’s highest honor. He was the founding director of the Advanced Systems and Concepts Office at the Defense Department’s Threat Reduction Agency. 


Vic met his wife Kathy at a Chinese painting class in 1974.  They married in 1978, and had two daughters, Anna and Margaret. Vic was a superlative father and husband, who supported his family during times of need and cheered them on during times of triumph.  He taught his daughters how to work hard, treat people with kindness, and meet the world with open hearts. 


Vic was beloved for his kindness and joy.  He was quick to laugh and slow to anger.  He found himself constantly in awe at the beauty of the world and grateful for his time here. He got to fly a plane across the country; he got to teach his granddaughters how to play liar’s dice; he got to see whales and redwood trees and the Eiffel Tower and the Kremlin.  He marveled at the beauty of it all. 


Vic spent his last day doing things he loved: he went for a fried chicken lunch and stopped at the grocery store for some coconut chocolate macaroons.  He fell on his way to bed and hit his head, lost consciousness immediately, and never opened his eyes again.  He died the next day.


A celebration of Victor’s life is planned for this spring.  In lieu of flowers, please honor Victor with a contribution to Feeding America.


To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of Victor Utgoff, please visit our Tree Store
A Memorial Tree was planted for Victor
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Advent Funeral and Cremation Services - Falls Church
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