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Each November, in New York City, Jon Utley and I have shared a meal.  We also invited a younger person, or two, to join our conversation.

Jon and I mutually identified ourselves, many years ago, as Libertarian Survivors.  Both of us were bruised and battered from many vigorous confrontations with the bureaucratic battalions.

During the other months of the year I looked forward to the occasional email when Jon sent me various items that “may be of interest”.  My younger dinner guests, and I, will still continue to enjoy our complimentary subscription to The American Conservative which continues as a fine journal and a tribute to Jon’s role as publisher.

When I heard of Jon’s passing, I felt that my life had been diminished.  Jon, by his words and actions over many years was widely acknowledged as one of our Real Heroes of Liberty. I will certainly miss Jon Utley and now I can only wonder about his wise commentary on the current Coronavirus Crisis.

Meanwhile, Doug Bandow has published a moving tribute to Jon Utley here.

1 Comment

  • See below a collection of some of the responses I have received to this tribute, after distributing it to all my connections. Regards, Ron.

    Thanks for that, I have met Doug Bandow, we had a chat about Charlie Wilson’s War. Hope you are well. – Grahame

    It’s nice that you two tried to build other leaders up so we can all fly. I hope you have found a new co-pilot for your mission. Stay safe. Peace, Elaine

    Thank you for this note about Jon, appreciated. Do hope you are safe and well in these challenging times. – Warwick

    I certainly share your sentiments on Jon. Always looked forward to visiting with him as we often attended the same libertarian functions. – Derwood

    My sincere sympathy over the loss of your good friend Jon Utley. I did not know Jon but can appreciate the sense of loss when one loses such a long-time friend. We are going through times of enduring change in Australia, which leaves us somewhat fearful of the future. Trusting the reality will not be as bad as the prospects. – Bob

    Jon was a good man. May Jon rest in peace. – Franklin

    Ron, you sure do meet all the good and great ones. What a tribute to him. – Ross

    It me hard, too. I just couldn’t stop crying. By luck, I got into DC early enough on Jan. 21 to go to an event , “The Committee For The Republic” at the Metropolitan Club where I stay. Jon saw me and came over and we sat together and caught up a bit before the lecture. He was going on with some of the leadership to dinner, so we bid goodbye, always feeling we’d see each other soon somewhere.

    It’s always been that way since we met quite by accident on an extraordinary trip of the Washington Times into the former Soviet Block in 1989. I think we realized we were each always deeply driven by wanting to know what was on the “ other side of the fence,” even if we didn’t ever want to go there but once! And always willing to take the risk! And in this, we shared some remarkable experiences.

    We were in Warsaw and locked down with the KGB. I’d been asking to go to Gdańsk and to the ship yards. And particularity to meet with Walesa’s Priest, Henryk Jankowski. Always from the KGB, No!No! Then abruptly, some of us were given permission to go! I‘ve a lovely photo of it.

    Then another time, we were on a meeting in Bern, and I had secretly made plans to go to Berlin and be crossed into West Berlin. At the last minute, I began to worry that going totally alone was foolish. On the spur of the moment, I asked Jon if he’d be willing to go and off to the train station we went! A trip neither of us would ever forget!

    With all our strong exchanges of ideas and difference of opinions, particularly on Foreign Policy and Defense, never on Free Market, we always capped it with a smile and a good scotch and looked forward to our ongoing exchanges of ideas. Always saying goodbye with a smile. Yes, I weep, and I am sad for not a chance of a “thank you” for a special friendship and a fond goodbye.” – Diana

    We all miss him. What a great guy. A special Phila Soc friend from the 70s. – Lew

    Sad passing of a great man. – Ivan

    Thanks for your reflection. As I progress into the sunset I too reflect on those who have helped or influenced me as a bloke from SA and on my own. – Tom

    I hope you are doing well during all this madness. Thanks very much for the message about Jon’s passing; I had not been aware of it and am greatly saddened. Thanks also for the link to Bandow’s essay about Jon; it told me a lot about Jon’s life that I had not known. I will spend time tomorrow viewing the links in Doug’s tribute. – Jerry

    Your note about your friendship with the late John Utley is very touching. There is no doubt that when good friends and soulmates leave us, part of us goes with them. Probably the best way to honour his memory is to continue your good work. Please accept my sympathy. – Maurice

    Although I never had your good fortune to meet Jon Utley, I share your sadness at the loss of a fine civil libertarian and defender of the principles on which our great Australian democracy was (yes, “was”) founded. Mannkal is going from strength to strength. A credit to you. – Malcolm

    Nice to hear from you and I hope you are having a safe and healthy Easter in these most peculiar times.

    Yes, it is sad to have lost Jon. He was of a breed rapidly disappearing in the world. Wise and informed by a full and experienced life. I’m sure your conversations with him were deep, animated and heartfelt. I’d have liked to be sitting in on one of those lunches Stateside, Ron!

    Having spent many years working as a journo in the US, it is rather tragic to see things going the way they are there. I maintain close connections in New York and Los Angeles, and things are definitely not good.

    The former solid foundations of US strength are crumbling. The current health crisis has revealed gaping deficiencies in the system. Sometimes I rather think priorities, be they economic, political or social, have gone wildly askew. There is definitely a deep need for better leadership and management of both internal and external affair.

    We have a very interesting six months ahead for the US and the world.

    We haven’t had a Starfish out for about a month because we had a major crash on the site. (Perhaps we’d piled it up with too much gibberish!). But have been working away on getting it ready to go again. We should have a new edition out next week and will make sure it hits your inbox.

    When this pandemic is all over it would be nice to get together for that chat and I can do that Starfish story I have been meaning to do on you forever. – Peter Rigby (

    We all do miss him ;( – Frederik

    So sorry to hear, did this happen because of COVID 19? I was very close to him – as close as possible through the thousands of miles distance.. I was calling him Father Jon. – Gia

    My deepest sympathy will keep him (and you) in mind. – Fr Paul

    I did enjoy reading about this amazing man, including watching the video he made about finding his father, fascinating stuff. Have you read his mother’s book, “The Dream We Lost”? I sounds like it would be an interesting read. – Gillian

    Sad news indeed. Jon was an exceptional individual. He was a true believer and a lovely friend. It’s hard to imagine an MPS meeting without him. – Jose

    I miss Jon!! Thanks for this memoriam Ron. – Rocio

    Of course I do not know Jon Utley or even anything about him although I think I have come across The American Conservative, probably while trying to run the IPA. The world is poorer for his death but I expect the next generation to be better than we ever were.- John

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