Gary Alan Upshaw of Federal Way, Washington passed away peacefully on May 13, 2017, after a courageous almost eight year battle with cancer. Gary spent his last week of life under the compassionate nursing care at CHI Franciscan Hospice House, University Place, Washington. Gary was 64.
Gary was born February 2, 1953 in Havre, Montana to Joseph and Gloria Upshaw of nearby Chinook, Montana. He was the second of three sons born to Joe and Gloria. In 1961, the family moved from Chinook to Bozeman, Montana where Gary attended middle and junior high school. In 1969 the family moved to Helena, Montana. Gary graduated from Helena High School in 1971 with honors. He participated in many school activities and lettered as a football, and track and field athlete.
Gary graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. After receiving a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from MSU in 1977, Gary joined The Boeing Company in Seattle, where he enjoyed a distinguished 37 year career. His career was spent entirely in Thermal Analysis, primarily in Space and Defense Systems, including: Hubble Space Telescope metering Truss, Air Launched Cruise Missile, Satellite launches with Boeings Inertial Upper State (IUS), Satellite launches on the Space Shuttle and Titan IV booster,
Sea Launch commercial satellite launches. Gary was highly respected as a lead engineer and well liked as a co-worker. He had a sharp sense of humor and a seemingly bottomless bucket of clever quips and rejoinders for every occasion.
Gary contracted Adult-Onset Type-1 Diabetes in 1993, but never complained about it or let it diminish his indomitable spirit. After he was stricken with colorectal cancer in 2009, he fought its complications for over seven years while maintaining an unyielding positive attitude and love for life.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Gloria, and his nephew, Joseph (Joey) Evan Upshaw.
Gary is survived by his wife, Jane Shreeves Yates Upshaw; daughter, Jennifer Upshaw; son, Curtis Upshaw; stepdaughters, Kristin and Stephanie Yates; brothers, Dale and Eugene Upshaw, of Helena, Montana; niece, Erica (Upshaw) Austin and her husband Damon Austin of Laguna Beach, CA; great nephew, Max Austin and great niece, Dahlia Austin; numerous cousins throughout the western states; and his dear miniature Schnauzer, Cha-Chi.
In 2000, Gary was blessed to meet his wife-to-be Jane; they were married in August, 2010, at Soldiers Chapel in Big Sky, Montana. Through the years, Gary and Jane enjoyed a busy and active life together. They were able to golf, travel, and enjoy many adventures together in the Pacific Northwest, Montana, Arizona, and other locations in the US and in Europe. After Gary’s cancer diagnosis, and until his last
day, Jane was always devoted, loving, helpful, and supportive of Gary. Gary always kept himself in great physical shape, and was an excellent snow skier, mountain biker, and mountain trail runner. He enjoyed many evenings of team ski racing with City League, Snoqualmie Summit, and enjoyed close camaraderie with his “No Wedgies” teammates.
Gary was a loving man with many fine qualities. He was always close and supportive of his parents and family. He was loyal, industrious, adventurous, creative, and lived life to the fullest, even in the face of so many health challenges. He will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know and love him.
To honor Gary’s life, embrace each day, as if it could be your last, laugh much, and love even more.
A celebration of Gary’s life will be held on Friday, June 2nd, at 11:30 am,
at Grace Lutheran Church, Des Moines, WA
In lieu of flowers, the Upshaw family requests that donations be made to the Colorectal Cancer Research fund at Swedish Cancer Institute. Gifts can be made at Swedishfoundation.org or by calling 206-386-2738, with a note in memory of Gary
Franciscan Foundation/CHI Franciscan Hospice House
PO Box 1502, Tacoma, WA 98401-9836
Our sincerest condolences go out to the family.