Honoring the Life by Telling the Story

Darby Upham

August 11, 1950 - March 29, 2020
West Allis, WI


Family & Friends will Gather

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM CDT
Milwaukee Yacht Club
1700 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Small Animal Hospital - Angel Fund for Darby
2340 N. Newhall Street
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Memorial contributions are preferred in lieu of flowers.

Life Story / Obituary


Darby Upham was a wonderful person to know and to love. She gave so much of herself to the special people in her life. Darby was an animal lover and especially loved her horses. Over the years, her many pets offered her unconditional love at many important moments in her life and she treated them all like family. Gone too soon, Darby will be greatly missed by her many special friends and loved ones.

The 1950s were the grand era of television and the silver screen, bringing American legends such as James Dean and Elvis’ rock and roll into living rooms worldwide. In the midst of this decade known as the baby boom, William and Elizabeth Upham welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Martha, into their loving arms on August 11, 1950, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Joining her older brother, William, and older sister, Monie, her birth brought great joy into the family home.

Darby lived a typical childhood of most children from her generation. She was naturally drawn to horses at a young age and spent much of her developing years horseback riding as well as competing. She also loved being on the water and took to sailing on Lake Michigan with her parents. Her father’s boat, "Seacret," was the perfect vessel for exploring and watching the construction of Veterans Memorial Park along the Milwaukee lakeshore. Darby built a close bond with her parents. They spoiled her to some extent, installing a second phone line (which her father referred to as "the children's" line even though it was installed after her siblings had moved out). For her 16th birthday she received a slightly used, sporty VW Karmann Ghia instead of the older-model family hand-me-down cars her siblings had received. It was also during this time that Darby got her first of what would be many tattoos. As Darby was a minor, her mother had to go along with her to give permission. Her parents were always supportive of her many special interests.

Graduating high school Cum Laude with the Class of 1968 from University School of Milwaukee, Darby left for UW-Madison. She was not so thrilled to be living in the same dorm room that her mother and sister did when they attended! During this time, she legally changed her name from Martha to Darby, paying homage to a family name, Derby. She also suffered her first mental breakdown. She finished out the year, but then spent some time back in Milwaukee before returning to school at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. It was a proud moment when she graduated with her Associate in Arts degree in 1972. Her hard work and efforts did not go unnoticed. Darby returned to Milwaukee and began classes at UW-Milwaukee where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree - graduating with Phi Beta Kappa academic honors in 1978. Darby later accepted an offer from her parents to assist them at Northwestern Mutual Life doing clerical work for them.

Darby struggled with her mental health over the years and lived with her parents on and off for many years. Her parents were encouraging and helped Darby continue her love of riding and sailing. Darby went on to receive a 5th place trophy in a horsemanship competition at the Prince of Wales Club Annual Horse Show in the Hunter-Hack Class. Darby enjoyed baking and especially loved to bake fresh bread and exchange her recipes with friends. When her mother passed away, Darby never left her father’s side. The two of them loved their beer and had a ritual of sharing a six pack of beer each evening. After her father passed away, Darby was moved into her own place. She and her sister, Monie remained very close. Monie made arrangements for a case of beer to be delivered to Darby every week. Eventually, the delivery driver had Darby on speed dial; he would call her when he was on his way so she could meet him at the door. Even though Darby knew that she needed to make the case last for the entire week, that never stopped her from sharing a beer or two with one of her nearby neighbors.

After their father died, Monie made it her mission to take Darby on a trip each year for her birthday - they ventured to Fort Collins, Colorado, Branson, Missouri, Bayfield, Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Dells over the years. For her sixtieth birthday, the two of them took a trip of a lifetime; an Alaskan cruise. With her wit and wry smile, she could often be found "holding court" in the smoker's area on the ship - impressing her fellow smokers by rolling her own cigarettes. While there, they went to a sled dog training center where they were able to ride in a cart pulled by the dogs. Darby never stopped talking about that memorable day - often saying it was the best day of her life! When Darby wasn’t physically able to travel any longer, Monie would fly to Milwaukee. During these visits, Monie and Darby enjoyed many lunches at the Milwaukee Yacht Club where Darby usually ordered her favorite - a loaded Bloody Mary, of course with a beer chaser! Close-knit and bonded by sisterhood, she and Monie shared many happy memories together.

In recent years, Darby's health declined which force her to move to a care facility. Although Monie lived too far away to make weekly visits herself, she made sure Darby was never alone by hiring people to visit her. One of these visitors enjoyed visiting Darby so much that she told Monie that she would visit Darby even if she wasn't paid. Darby enjoyed watching reruns of old television shows - especially westerns. Described as a keen observer of the human character, it is no surprise that people felt special in her presence. Darby held an immense amount of compassion in her heart - possibly something she learned from the unconditional love she always received from all of her animals throughout the years. May her loved ones be comforted in knowing that she is at peace and may her warm memories be eternal - for she was unique.

Darby Kirkland Upham, age 69, died on March 29, 2020 in West Allis, Wisconsin. She was preceded in death by her beloved parents, William H. Upham. Jr. and Elizabeth Dentz Upham and her brother William H. Upham lll. She is survived by her loving sister, Monie Elizabeth Upham. She was a dear aunt to Susan (Jeff) Amundson and David E. Upham, a fond great-aunt of Grace, Edwin, and John Upham and Wynter and Scott Amundson, and further survived by other relatives and friends. Family and friends will gather to celebrate Darby's life 4:00-6:00 PM Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at the Milwaukee Yacht Club, 1700 Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Darby’s memory can be made to: Small Animal Hospital - Angel Fund for Darby, 2340 N. Newhall Street, Milwaukee, WI 53211.