Richard Earl Utley, lifelong Big Sandy, TN resident, passed away on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. Richard was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 25, 1952 to Big Sandy natives James “Jimmy” Earl Utley & Anna Jean Utley. “Jimmy” worked in a steel mill in Detroit for a couple of years in the early 1950s. When Richard was 19 months old he & his family returned to Big Sandy & have called it home ever since then. Richard graduated from Big Sandy High School in 1970. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in education in 1973 from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He later earned a master’s degree in agricultural education also from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Despite having multiple college degrees, Richard chose not to leave Big Sandy due to his intense love & commitment for his family, friends, & community. He was a very diverse man with vast capabilities of performing any task he set his mind to. He worked in numerous fields in Benton, Carroll, & Henry counties doing his best to help the community & the people who reside there. Richard was a farmer raising both crops & animals. He was a teacher in Carroll County for some time in the mid to late 1970s hoping to not only educate the children in his classes but to instill values in them enriching their lives. He worked at Holley Carburetor Plant Paris Division in the 1980s in the laboratory & at the Bowling Green Division for a short time after the Paris Division closed. In the late 1980s Richard took a job at Pafford Tire in Big Sandy helping people in the tri-county area keep their vehicles operating smoothly. He drove a truck over the road for a very short period of time in the early 1990s where he got to see sights across the country like the Grand Canyon that he found breathtaking. Richard’s uncle Earl Brewer & his friend Charles Berry worked with him driving as teams. His days driving an 18 wheeler were over quickly as his family requested he resign & return home with them. When Richard returned home he gained employment as a project manager at Plumley Corporation in Paris. He later went to work at M & M Gravel where he not only worked on automobiles but also served as the mechanic for the heavy equipment used at the gravel pit. Richard had his own business for a time & employed residents of Benton County paying them far above minimum wage & providing a much better working environment than most. As he got older he was self-employed & spent a great deal of time with his best friend, Eric Gilbreath at Eric’s Machine Shop in Paris. Richard spent his life sacrificing his time & desires to help others. He made numerous “victory laps” picking his children up off the side of the road when their vehicles broke down, helped his son work on properties in Florida, & helped his daughter when he acted as management & security of an LSO facility responsible for bank bags, firearms, & pharmaceuticals. Richard was always mechanically inclined & inquisitive about the world. He always offered to lend a hand to those in need. Richard did his best to do good in the world & towards all people he encountered. He tried to instill in his children a deep sense of humanity, the value of hard work, determination, & fairness. Richard is proceeded in death by his father, James Earl Utley & his brother John Roland Utley. He is survived by his mother Anna Jean Utley of Big Sandy, brother James William Utley (Brenda) of Big Sandy, son Richard Jason Utley of Venice, FL, daughter Jessica Sue Goforth (Shawn) of Nashville, TN, grandson Kaiden, & best friend Eric Gilbreath of Paris, TN. Until we see you again your legacy will continue on this earth daily through the stories we tell & our memories we have.
Graveside services will be Saturday, January 16, 2021, 11 AM, at McRae’s Chapel Cemetery, in Big Sandy, TN.