In Memoriam

John F. Utendale (1937-2006)

John F. Utendale, a black pioneer in professional hockey and the first black faculty member at the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University in Bellingham, died recently from cancer. He was 69 years old.

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, he was the first black player to sign a contract with a National Hockey League team. He had played minor league hockey for several years before while enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Alberta.

He later went on to earn a master’s degree from Eastern Washington State College while playing for the Spokane Jets of the Western Hockey League. He then accepted a faculty and administrative position at Washington State University in Pullman where he earned an educational doctorate.

After three years in Pullman, Utendale joined the faculty at Western Washington University where he remained until his retirement in 2001.