Last Living Son of Governor William H. Upham Dies at 97

Son of Civil War Veteran Had Important Local Ties

A man with significant ties to Marshfield’s early history has passed away at age 97.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of Fritz Upham’s passing, surrounded by family, on Dec. 30th, in Fort Collins, Colorado,” the North Wood County Historical Society stated this week. Since the mid ‘70s, the historical society has preserved the Upham Mansion on 3rd Street in Marshfield.

Frederick “Fritz” Upham was the last living son of the late Wisconsin Governor William H. Upham, who died in 1924. The family held a small memorial service Wednesday, January 2nd.

Fritz was born May 19,1921 to William H. Upham and Grace Upham, the governor’s second wife.

The former governor was integral to Marshfield’s growth as a businessman in the lumber industry and helped rebuild the city after the Great Fire of 1887. He was also a Civil War veteran who was injured in the First Battle of Bull Run, captured by Confederate forces, and later released in a prisoner exchange before getting introduced to President Abraham Lincoln. He died in 1924.

A 1940 graduate of Marshfield Senior High, Fritz Upham briefly attended UW-Madison before moving to Colorado to work a variety of jobs. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he enlisted in the Navy Air Corps but was prevented from joining due to poor eyesight. Though he attempted to remedy this by drinking carrot juice for two months, a second attempt to join two months later was unsuccessful.

Fritz was later placed in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and was a flight instructor from 1943-44 in Lansing, Michigan. He was discharged in 1944 from the Air Corps and drafted into the Navy, specializing in meteorology.

He married his wife Jean, who he had known from Marshfield, in 1945 in Oakland, CA. They returned to Wisconsin at the end of WWII. Under the GI Bill, Fritz was able to enroll again at the University of Wisconsin and graduated in 1951 with a BS in Bacteriology and Geology.

The family lived in a variety of places, including Casper, WY, Denver, and ultimately Fort Collins in 1996. Fritz did field work at well sites and worked in the oil and gas industry as a consultant.

Fritz is preceded in death by children Pam and Walt Evans, Rick and Mary Jo Upham, Tim Upham, and Amy and Peter Pryharski; his grandchildren Todd, Chrissy, Jessica, Allie, and Petey; great-grandchildren Will, Gabby, Bella, Cameron, Mason, Logan, and Griffin.