Cornelia van der Voort Utley passed away quietly on the evening of March 20, 2021 in Los Altos, CA. “Neil”, as she was known, was born April 21, 1928 in Fredonia, NY and was the loving wife of Charles E. Utley for 65 years. She is survived by her sons, Robert B. Utley and his wife, Elisabeth of The Hague, Netherlands, Nelson V. Utley and his wife, Barbara of Cupertino, CA and Charles A. Utley and his wife, Theresa of Campbell, CA. She also leaves behind much loved grandsons, Nicholas and Lucas along with precious granddaughter, Emily.
Neil was the daughter of Joseph Nelson van der Voort and Dorothy (Leishman) van der Voort of Fredonia, NY, and was raised with three sisters and a brother. She is survived by two sisters, Josephine Markell of Naples, FL and Marcia Bates of Rochester, NY. Neil attended Pine Manor College and graduated from Albright Art School in Buffalo, NY in 1951. She subsequently worked as a free-lance artist, creating decorated furniture for children’s rooms and wall art for business clients.
In 1953, Neil married Charles “Chuck” Utley of Buffalo at her family home in Fredonia, NY. They lived in East Aurora, NY, where their three sons were born. The family moved to Rochester in 1963 and lived there until a business opportunity beckoned her husband in Northern California. Chuck joined Robert Ebey Company Advertising and the family made a memorable 1970 cross-country automobile trip which settled them in the South Bay Area town of Los Altos.
Neil maintained her interest in art throughout her life in many ways. She served as an Art Docent in the Los Altos Elementary Schools, explaining the works of important painters and sculptors during years when art education was missing from the curriculum. After moving to Mountain View in 1988, she became a member of the first Mountain View Visual Arts Committee, which selected unique sculptures for installation at special outdoor locations around the city. The committee also organized a Sand Sculpture Contest for Mountain View’s “Discover Downtown” festival in 1990. In addition, she was a charter member of the Rengstorff House Restoration Committee following its relocation to Shoreline Park.
An enthusiastic bridge player, Neil played monthly with “The Omegas” for over 30 years and joined other local bridge groups at least once a week. She was also an avid traveler; enjoying several extended tours of Europe and the Middle East when Chuck was unable to get away. Together they joyfully explored South America, China, Australia and New Zealand. Africa would have been her next adventure.
A memorial service for immediate family followed by internment of ashes at Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos is planned with assistance from Spangler Mortuary.