Montague Middleton Upshaw
1936 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Flowers
May 11, 1936 - July 26, 2017
Resident of Oakland
Montague "Monte" Middleton Upshaw, beloved brother, husband, father, and friend of those who knew and loved him, succumbed to complications from Parkinson's disease on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Joan, his previous wife, Carol, and their four children, Joy Upshaw, Montague "Chip" Upshaw Jr., Merry Irwin, and Grace Tyler, sisters Terry Mossop and Georgia Upshaw, brother John "Doc" Upshaw, and 13 grandchildren, Sunny and Windy Margerum; Jackson and Jessica Upshaw; Michael, Miranda, Matthew, Mary, Moses, and Maverick Irwin; Skye, Hope, and Chance Tyler.
Monte was born to father Ernest M. Upshaw and mother Ellen Montague Upshaw in Carmel, California on May 11, 1936. He and his sister Terry Jean Upshaw moved with their parents to the Piedmont-Oakland area in 1939, and several years later settled in their family home on Arbor Drive.
Monte's high school years at Piedmont High School as a world-class interscholastic track star in the long-jump, high and low hurdles, and mile relay, as well as a stellar prep football wide receiver earned him local prep legend-hood in the Oakland Tribune and SF Chronicle. During '53 and '54 athletic news seasons, Monte was named the 'Northern California Prep of the Year.' As a senior in 1954, his crowning recognition in local athletics was secured with a world record breaking long-jump of 25'4½." This record was previously held by Olympic great Jessie Owens for 21 years. Monte also tied a national record of 18.8 in the 180 high hurdles that same year. On May 29, 1954, the SF Chronicle Sporting Green ran a front page photo of Monte jumping at the UC Edwards Stadium long jump pit showing his father placing a white handkerchief at the 25' mark. Monte surpassed that mark by nearly 5", thus breaking Jesse Owen's mark and establishing his own record. A father's belief in his son's ability had been memorialized. That achievement placed Monte as the 5th ranking long jumper in the world.
His success in athletics never defined him as a person. His humility and commitment to his faith, and his instinct to help others made him a natural leader. As student body president at Piedmont High, Monte led successful fund-raising drives for Cerebral Palsy and other local charities. He maintained a loyal love and friendship with his many high school friends throughout his life.
After graduating from Piedmont High in 1954, Monte went on to study business and political science at UC Berkeley where he also continued his athletic career in track and field. He was a definite hopeful for the US Olympic Team at the 1956 Rome Olympics in the long jump, 180 low hurdles, and mile relay, but that milestone was dashed by an unfortunate jumping injury to his left knee.
Nevertheless, in Monte's years at CAL he continued as an outstanding competitor. Even though he was slowed by knee injury, Monte participated in the hurdles, sprints, and relays for the team including a World Record set in the Sprint Relay (3:18.8) with teammates Jack Yerman, Willie White, and Don Bowden. He was inducted into the UC Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He stayed involved with CAL Alumni for many years on the Scholarship committee, as the President of the "Big C" Society, and as the founder and chairman of "Friends of CAL Track and Field," a major alumni support group.
Monte joined ROTC at CAL and in 1960 received his U.S. Army Commission as a 2nd Lt. in the reserves as a paratrooper. After completion of his reserve service at Ft. Benning, Georgia, Monte, who had studied business and political science at UC, had to set many of his personal career goals aside after the untimely death of his father. Monte had to step into this void and manage the operation of his father's business, Fidelity Roof Company. Along with his mother, Monte helped raise his two young siblings, Georgia 12 and John 10. Encouraged by his Uncle Jack to lend his leadership to keep the company viable and secure for the sake of the family, Monte put his head, heart, and shoulders into the task, and went on to grow Fidelity into a successful standard for the entire industry. His life long friend and former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother at CAL, Tom Trutner, commented, "I always imagined Monte with his great smile and magnetism ending up as a statesman or something along those lines, but he didn't blink or lament, he honored his Mom and Dad. Whatever path he found himself on, though, he was going to do it with heart."
Monte's impact on the local and national roofing industry earned him a wall full of professional awards, and a resume exploding list of credits. Noted by his close Fidelity colleague and personal friend of 43 years, Steve Cadet, "He was president or board member for many roofing industry groups and civic associations, including the Union and Merit Contractors, NCRA, Oakland Boys and Girls Club, East Bay Community Foundation, Claremont Country Club, CAL alumni, and the "Big C" Society. It would seem Monte was always active in one or more outside organizations trying to make a difference with something or someone."
"It is unmeasurable," continued Steve, "to quantify how many people started or enhanced their careers at Fidelity Roof Company. The Bay Area roofing community is littered with numerous individuals who were able to take advantage of the roofing template that existed at his company. He was also one of the first to hire women roofers who often continued careers beyond their initial FRC industry introduction."
Monte's legacy of enthusiasm, optimism, and concern for others continues to live in those who cherished his cheerful countenance and loving heart. May he rest in God's peace. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Oakland Boys and Girls Club, the CAL "Big C" Society, or a charity of your choice. A celebration of life with reception to follow will be held at Claremont Country Club, on Sunday, September 10, at 3:00 p.m. Monte's family looks forward to greeting his many friends and sharing fond remembrances of this wonderful, kind, and loving man.
View the online memorial for Montague Middleton Upshaw