Dr. Peter D. Upton

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WALLINGFORD - Dr. Peter Dodds Upton died Monday, March 4, 2013, at his home in Wallingford, in the presence of his devoted wife of 50 years, Kathleen Ovitt Upton. He was 76 years old and had battled cancer for the past two years.

Dr. Upton was born May 18, 1936, in Burlington, Vt., to Dr. Hiram Eugene Upton and Doris Dodds Upton. He graduated from Burlington High School in 1953, where he was a standout athlete, participating in football, alpine ski racing and track and field. In addition to playing multiple positions in football, he won both the Vermont high school slalom championship and the New England high school discus championship in 1953. A knee injury later that year cut short his athletic career. He spent winters skiing at Stowe, summers fishing at the family camp on the shores of Lake Champlain and many days and nights enjoying the woods and streams of family property on Camel's Hump in Duxbury.

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1958, he attended the University of Vermont College of Medicine, graduating in 1963 and earning a master's degree in neuroanatomy along the way. While at UVM, he also met Kathleen Ovitt of Fairfax, a graduate of the Mary Fletcher School of Nursing in Burlington; they were married September 14, 1962, and joyfully celebrated their golden wedding anniversary together this past year. After finishing medical school, he completed his training in Denver, Colo., and Burlington, and in 1969, moved with his family to Wallingford, where he began what would be a 40-year career as a neurosurgeon, proudly and tirelessly serving the Rutland area and Southern Vermont until illness forced him to fully retire in 2011.

Dr. Upton was an avid outdoorsman, naturalist and conservationist. Throughout his life, he enjoyed hunting and fishing, first with his father, later with his own children and grandchildren. He shared with his family and friends a passion for, and an encyclopedic knowledge of, the plant, animal and bird life of Vermont and beyond -- his love of the natural world took him many places, including the North Slope of Alaska and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Along with other area hunting and environmental advocates, he was instrumental in the successful establishment of Rutland County chapters of the National Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. He served on the board of Vermont Coverts, a local organization of private landowners promoting the enhancement of wildlife habitat and healthy forest ecosystems; he put these ideals into practice on land in Hubbardton that he owned and actively managed beginning in 1988.

Dr. Upton was a committed husband, father and grandfather. He was an active member of the Mill River Union High School community for many years, enthusiastically supporting the school's athletic, music and drama programs. He was a dedicated physician and caregiver, serving his patients and their families with skill, compassion and a legendary sense of humor. Above all, he was a proud Vermonter.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen; three children, Dr. Michael Upton of South Hero, Timothy Upton and his wife Tracy Upton of Wallingford, and Louise Larvik and her husband Darin Larvik of LaGrande, Ore.; five grandchildren, Benjamin and John Upton, and Georgia, Silas and Allison Larvik; three sisters, Hira Rhode of Shaftsbury, Audrey Upton of Bennington and Sara Mikell of Williston; and many nieces and nephews.

Friends may call at the Rutland Country Club on Grove Street from 3:00 -- 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2013.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Vermont Coverts, Woodlands for Wildlife Inc., PO Box 81, Middlebury, VT 05753; or to the Vermont Woodlands Association, PO Box 6004, Rutland, VT 05702.
Published in Rutland Herald from Mar. 5 to Mar. 7, 2013