Dr. Thomas T. Upshur IV, 102, of Lynchburg, Virginia, died Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at his home. He was born Feb. 22, 1915, in Sumter, a son of the late William Brown Upshur and Caroline Martin Upshur. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 70 years, Betsy Cox Upshur, and all six of his siblings.
Dr. Upshur grew up in Sumter and received a BS degree from Presbyterian College, where he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha social fraternity. He received his DDS from Emory University in 1943. His educational path was interrupted by WWII in which he served as captain in the U.S. Army dental corps from 1943 to 1945 on the European Theatre. Returning from the war, he continued his education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he received an MS in Periodontics.
Having passed the state boards of several states, he and Betsy chose to settle in Lynchburg in 1946. There they grew their family of five children, and Dr. Upshur continued to practice dentistry and serve, trying to improve the dentistry profession. He was president of the Lynchburg Dental Society, Piedmont Dental Society and the Virginia Dental Association, and actively served on committees of the American Dental Association, American Association of Endodontics and Southern Academy of Periodontics.
During the time he was at Ann Arbor, the university was concluding a 10-year program investigating the effectiveness of fluoride in water systems to help prevent tooth decay in children. He brought the idea to do the same here in Lynchburg, and with the help of Dr. C. K. Garrard, who had a special interest in children's dentistry, the proposal of fluoridating the water supply in Lynchburg was presented to city council. It was accepted, and Lynchburg became the first city in Virginia to do this and possibly the first city in the South to do so.
Dr. Upshur was both an elder and a deacon at First Presbyterian Church. In the community, he served as president of Lynchburg Guidance Center, American Field Service, Lynchburg chapter, and the PTA at E.C. Glass High School where all of his children graduated. He was also a member of the Kiwanis Club and the Keep Lynchburg Beautiful Commission. He represented the city of Lynchburg on the Central Virginia Air Pollution Control Committee (remarking on several occasions that a fellow committee member sitting beside him chain-smoked through every meeting!)
In 1993, he and his brother Bob co-authored and published the second edition of "The Upshur Family in Virginia." He was also a member of the Society of the Cincinnati.
Dr. Upshur's hobbies were legendary and included jewelry making, sculpture, wood and metal-working, enameling, lapidary, glass-slumping and sailing. The replicas he made of 17th and 18th century naval cannons using pictures in a book from the library and a metal lathe which he purchased are true family heirlooms, and his daughters have enjoyed wearing unique pieces of jewelry he designed and made through the years. At age 99, he constructed a 6-foot sailboat for his great-grandchildren to use at Smith Mountain Lake, and at the time of his death he was still occasionally making slump-glass cheese trays for Blue Mountain Brewery. His children received much love and instruction from him and his wife. He will be greatly missed but leaves a legacy of love and involvement in family, job and community.
Dr. Upshur is survived by his five children and their families: Diana and Kent Smack of Lynchburg, Elizabeth Upshur of Lynchburg, Fontaine and Charles Nolan of Greensboro, Carol and Paul Salmons of Opelika, Alabama, and T and Marjette Upshur of Lynchburg. Also surviving are six grandsons: Stephen (and Karen) Smack of Portland, Oregon, Taylor (and Mandi) Smack of Afton, Virginia, Chris (and April) Nolan of Charlotte, Scott Upshur of Telluride, Colorado, and Jonathan (and fianc Jessica) and Matthew (and Alllie) of Opelika. Five great-grandchildren survive him also: Hayden and Evan Smack, Emerson and Brock Nolan and Dorothy Smack.
A special thank you from the family to Sarah Wilson for her devotion and care of our father and mother, and also to his other wonderful caregivers: Mary Johnson, Joanne Hamilton and Marcia Miller.
A celebration of his life and inurnment service will be conducted in the Columbarium of First Presbyterian Church at 2 p.m. Friday. The Rev. Dr. James J.H. Price and Richard Boswell, CRE, will be officiating.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family. To send condolences, please visit tharpfuneralhome.com.