IN MEMORIAM: Charles Hiram Upson III

by Jane Ahrens

Charles Hiram Upson III passed away peacefully in Waterbury, Connecticut, the city of his birth, in the early hours of December 9, 2022, after a brief illness. He was 90 years old. He leaves a grieving immediate and extended family, as well as legions of friends and colleagues to whom he brought joy, laughter, love, support and the highest example of living a life of goodness and purpose.

Born on October 12, 1932, to Gertrude Whittemore Upson and Charles Hiram Upson Jr. of Middlebury, Hiram, as he was known, grew up on Tranquility Farm and Lake Quassapaug. His early passions for competitive sailing, skiing, golfing, education, conservation and the arts were shared by his sisters, Justine and Thyrza.  Hiram’s life path and contributions to Middlebury, Waterbury and Fishers Island, New York, were at once significant and unassuming. He was cherished for his goodness, fine character, unconditional love for his family, constant congeniality, exemplary citizenship and love for his country.

Hiram attended Waterbury’s McTernan School, later the Chase Collegiate School, in Waterbury, going on to attend Westminster School and Phillips Academy-Andover. From there he enrolled at Yale University, graduating with a degree in Economics and serving as class agent. Hiram then served in the United States Air Force as a jet fighter pilot, and his call sign was “Malibu.”  He successfully flew over Eastern Europe during the Cold War and when he had time off, Hiram enjoyed ample skiing and hiking opportunities available in Germany’s terrain near the Alps.

After spending a year in Zermatt, Switzerland, Hiram entered the University of Virginia School of Law in 1960. The very next summer, he met and began courting his future wife, Anne Clark Cullen, known as “Dancy,” on Fishers Island. They married in 1962, welcoming two sons, Ty and Peter, and made their home in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Hiram elected to set his career path in the financial world, and his legal training was especially valuable for the work. Starting out at Brown Brothers Harriman, then working at both Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette and Fiduciary Trust, Hiram went on to become Senior Equity Portfolio Manager at General Motors in New York. Hiram retired from financial management and General Motors in 2000.

Upon retirement, Hiram returned to central Connecticut, closer to his hometown of Middlebury. He spent several years restoring and transforming his new house, and met Martha Barhydt, who would become his partner. From the moment Hiram and Muffy were introduced, they were inseparable. The two embarked on a 20-year love partnership that was companionable, exciting and gifted the lucky pair a “second bite of the apple.” A perfect match, they embraced a partnership based on respect, friendship, a mutual delight with the outdoors and shared friends, a disposition for civic duty and the seamless overlapping of two large and loving clans.

During his years with Muffy, Hiram focused his considerable talents and energy on philanthropic endeavors, serving his communities. The McTernan/Chase Collegiate School, Westminster School, Yale University, University of Virginia Law School, Phillips Academy-Andover and the Whiteman-Steamboat Mountain School all benefitted from Hiram’s generosity, expertise and consideration.

As a lifelong New England resident, Hiram, like his grandfather Arthur Harris Whittemore, honored his family’s history of civic responsibility. And, like Harris, Hiram was a strong supporter of conservation initiatives, generously supporting the Friends of White Deer Rock, the Fishers Island Conservancy and the Connecticut Community Foundation, as well as many other organizations with missions to preserve nature and open space. Most recently, in his role as a senior board member for Waterbury’s Mattatuck Museum, Hiram was instrumental in realizing a capital campaign goal that resulted in transforming the Mattatuck and in the dedication of a gallery in his name.

Hiram’s sons, Ty and Peter, grew up enjoying what their father enjoyed, and he took great pleasure in their adventures. Though his sons share so many of their father’s traits, Hiram was not a parent to make his children over in his own image. Leading by example, he allowed his sons to learn life’s lessons by experience rather than warning, teaching his boys by listening to them.

Hiram leaves behind his sons, Charles Hiram Upson IV (Ty) of Steamboat Springs, Colorado and Peter Scott Upson (Sarah Tuttle) of Redding, Connecticut; his partner, Martha Barhydt of Watertown, Connecticut; five grandchildren — Zinnia Anne, Kain Tuttle, Atticus Hiram and Thyrza Wesley Upson of Redding, Connecticut and Hayden Whittemore Upson Entress, of Teton Valley, Idaho. Hiram was pre-deceased by his sisters, Justine (Teenie) Upson Arnold and Thyrza Upson Christel. He leaves a raft of nieces and nephews who loved and cherished him.

Services will take place this Spring in Middlebury, Connecticut. Hiram’s family will provide notice of service details closer to the date. In lieu of flowers, Hiram’s family suggests donations be made to the Connecticut Community Foundation or the Fishers Island Conservancy.

Featured Photo

Beach Rocks sun gaze, 12/10/20 Photo by Richard Breining

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