Garrick Utley of NBC News Dies of Cancer at 74

02/21/2014 at 10:10 AM EST

Garrick Utley of NBC News Dies of Cancer at 74
Garrick Utley
Yvonne Hemsey/Getty
NBC News says veteran reporter Garrick Utley has died of cancer. He was 74.

Utley began at NBC News in 1963, where for three decades he handled a wide variety of assignments. Early on, he reported from Vietnam on the escalating conflict. In later years, he moderated Meet the Press.

In between, Utley anchored Weekend Today and the Sunday Nightly News, as well as two different newsmagazines in two different decades with four different titles.

"I may have been the only person at NBC News who did every type of programming as host or anchor," he told the Associated Press in 1993, adding that his versatility may have led to the network taking him for granted. "There's a risk in being the utility infielder."

That was shortly after he had left NBC to be the chief foreign correspondent for ABC News. He reported for CNN from 1997 to 2002.

In recent years, he was a senior fellow and professor of broadcasting and journalism at the State University of New York, Oswego.

In 2000, he published a memoir, You Should Have Been Here Yesterday: A Life Story in Television News.

Standing a lanky 6'6", Utley was known for his courtly and knowledgeable on-the-air manner. An opera buff, for a time he hosted PBS's Live From the Met.

"Garrick was the first of our generation to crack the starting lineup of NBC News in the glory days of 'Huntley-Brinkley,' " said former Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, who called him a journalistic "man for all seasons" who was "always the complete gentleman."

Born in Chicago in 1939, Utley was the son of Clifton and Frayn Utley, two pioneering journalists on local TV as well as other Chicago media outlets.

He is survived by his wife, Gertje, an art historian.

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