Smiles we remember
Art Upton, who launched the College of Dentistry’s website in the early 1990s, died unexpectedly on April 22. He retired in December 2020 after 28 years at the college, most recently as website administrator.
The news was met with disbelief and sorrow, quickly followed by colleagues’ remembrances of a man who had a deep understanding of myriad topics, tales of a life well lived and a bucket list that any retiree might envy.
Charlie Lindahl, senior systems analyst at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, worked with Upton in the early days of the health science center’s web building and content management system setup after Lindahl was hired in 2002. He recalls their quick bond as they bounced ideas off each other despite Lindahl being in College Station and Upton miles away in Dallas.
“We did some real magic together,” Lindahl says. “He was a good designer and very quick and had the vision. I had the technical chops.”
That teamwork spilled over into their personal lives as Lindahl met up with Upton whenever he was in Dallas for EarthX, an annual environmental forum in Fair Park. They always made a point to share dinner at Kalachandji’s, a favorite vegan restaurant, Lindahl says.
Just before Upton’s passing, they exchanged texts, promising to get together soon. Lindahl, like other co-workers, lamented the lost year because of COVID-19 separation, as well as bucket list items that will go unchecked.
“I was on the bucket list. He and I were going to do stuff together,” Lindahl says. “We’re only on this earth a certain amount of time. Don’t assume you have a tomorrow. I know Art felt that way too, and that’s why he retired. I loved him very much. He was a dear friend. I was really, really looking forward to seeing him and doing things with him and his wife, Kirsten.”
In his most recent department, the Office of Advancement, Communications and Alumni Relations, Upton was considered part of the family for about 20 years.
“Our college has a long history of harboring renowned pioneers and thought leaders. Art was one of them,” says Susan Jackson, executive director of the advancement office. “He was always one step ahead of most people in the field of web development. He was ‘blogging’ and contemplating ‘cloud storage’ and ‘responsive websites’ before most people even had a clue about what those terms meant. We were blessed to have had his level of expertise at our college for nearly 30 years.
“But his brilliant mind could not outshine his heart of gold. He was kind, loving, thoughtful and patient. Because he had so many varied life experiences, he had great stories to tell. You name it, he had done it, studied it or lived there. Yet, he was never boastful; we’d have to prod him to tell us about his various adventures. Art Upton was an amazing person, and our team loved him. We’re thankful to have been a part of his journey.”