Frederic K. Upton

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CONCORD - Frederic K. Upton, a prominent Concord lawyer, passed away on Dec. 2, 2013. He was two weeks shy of his 95th birthday.

Upton was born in Bow and grew up at the family home on South Street in Concord. A remarkable scholar throughout his life, he graduated from Concord High School at the age of 16. At Dartmouth College, Fred was named a senior fellow for academic excellence, was captain of the cross-country team and ran track, graduating in 1939. When Upton later entered Harvard Law School, he remembered fondly the dean of the Law School making it known that at Harvard, Upton would have to work, a slight to his beloved Dartmouth education Upton never accepted. At Harvard, Upton was named a Law Review editor.

When World War II broke out, Upton enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned duty as an officer on destroyer escorts patrolling the North Atlantic, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander. He was awarded two Bronze Stars for his contributions in sinking German submarines.

The war years also brought into his life his wife of 53 years, Jean Thornton Upton, Smith 1941, whom Fred married in 1943 and who would return with him to Concord after the war to raise their five children.

Upon returning to Concord, Upton went into law practice with his father, former U.S. Sen. Robert W. Upton, and his older brother, Richard Upton. The firm, now called Upton & Hatfield, had a strong reputation for trial work, and early on Upton became a formidable trial lawyer. He was honored as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. One noteworthy accomplishment affecting all of New Hampshire was his successful legal effort to block the federal government from locating a super highway through Franconia Notch. Later in his career, Fred took on many new legal challenges in school, business and banking law. There was no area of the law that escaped his keen intellectual curiosity or held him back from excelling.

Upton was very active with the New Hampshire Bar Association, serving as the first president of the unified bar in 1970. He also served on the N.H. Supreme Court Judicial Conduct Committee for two decades, 10 years as chairman. When accepting the 2007 Frank Rowe Kenison Award of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, Upton stated: "Our self-esteem as lawyers may depend in the long run on our disposition or willingness to use our training and talents in some form of public service or for the public good."

Upton was an ardent supporter of public education, serving as chairman of the Concord School Board and seeking justice in his professional capacity in state funding for local education. He argued school funding issues before the N.H. Supreme Court on several occasions.

Fred passed on his commitment to community and hard work to his family. No family dinner table was safe from a thorough debate of the issues of the day. He expected much of himself and asked of his family that they always give their best effort and remember those who were less fortunate.

Following retirement, Fred and Jean spent lengthy periods at Waterville Valley, where many grandchildren came to visit. He taught them to fly fish and to read baseball box scores, showed them where to pick wild blueberries, and took them on bike rides. Following Jean's death in 1996, Fred married Beth Shoup Upton, with whom he shared much companionship and love of travel until Beth's death in 2010.

Fred is survived by his children, Robert W. Upton II and his wife, Lorri; Mark T. Upton, M.D. and his wife, Linda; Katherine U. Fulford and her husband, Mark; John S. Upton and his wife, Annie; Evelyn U. Brophy and her husband, Jim; and stepdaughter Diane Best and her companion, Christopher.

Fred was blessed with 13 passionate and caring grandchildren, all of whom were in attendance at his 90th birthday at the Snow Shoe Club in Concord: Abby, Emily, Sam, Molly, Ali, Matt, Stephanie, Scott, Martha, Cecily, Ted, Sarah, and Jennie. Later, great-grandchildren Fiona, Isla, Hannah and Camille arrived and were equally loved by him.

Fred remained to the end passionately concerned for his family, his state and his country.


services: A memorial service to celebrate Fred's life will be held at St. Paul's Church in Concord on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Frederic K. Upton Justice Fund of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, 2 Pillsbury Street, Suite 300, Concord, 03301-3502.

Published in Union Leader on Dec. 6, 2013
bullet Bronze Star bullet U.S. Navy bullet World War II