Darrell Uptegraft, an attorney known among the Kitsap County legal community for his upbeat personality and generosity of spirit, died last month at the age of 61, his life cut short after a three-year battle with ALS.
Darrell’s legacy runs deep in Kitsap, and perhaps the best way to honor him is through the words of his friends.
Collected here are the submissions I received after asking for favorite Darrell memories, but no doubt, this is a very small sampling of memories of a person who will live on in the hearts of his loved ones.
Darrell was the most chronically optimistic person I have ever known. Throughout his illness – and certainly the years before – Darrell always had a smile, twinkle in his eye and quip for those clients and potential friends he encountered.
He never went into anything halfway. When Darrell took up golf, for example, he lowered his handicap from about 30 to the mid-teens in a year. Always striving to do his best at those activities and chores he took on.
The Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors met in Bremerton some months ago and, as is their custom, gave a “Local Hero” award. Darrell was the recipient. After being presented the award, and sharing some funny tales about his life as a lawyer, Darrell said:
“The real heroes here are my friends who have helped me throughout this process. It is said someone can share their time, their toil or their treasure. I have been the lucky recipient of all three from my great friends.”
The governor next to me was sobbing. Like so many of us, he was touched by the width and depth of Darrell’s optimism, character, appreciation and love. And, yes, he did have an extraordinary group of friends. He will be missed by many, for a long time.
Tolman Clucas, PLLC
During the mid to late 1980s, I lived with my family near the intersection of 17th Street and Ohio Avenue, across from Memorial Field. Darrell lived down the block on 17th near High Street.
He owned a 1950s model MGTD sports car which was his pride and joy. He drove by all the time looking extremely happy in the moment. I would wave and remind him to, “Take good care of my (actually his) car.”
He was a happy guy and made all of us feel better.
Michael Liebert, PLLC
I’ll always remember Darrell because he helped me get everything I could ever want. In law school, I lived in Seattle and was applying to a bunch of jobs in King County. On a lark, I applied at McCluskey, Sells, Ryan, Uptegraft and Decker as well. I interviewed with Darrell.
To this point, interviewing was a staid, uncomfortable and stressful process. Interviewing with Darrell was the opposite. He was animated, engaging and interesting. He obviously loved what he did, loved where he worked and loved the people he worked with. I got offered a few jobs in King County. But I took the job that Darrell offered me. I took it because I wanted to love what I do, love where I work and love who I work with.
Darrell was my first mentor. He taught me so much about the practice of law. He had an incredibly inventive legal mind I envied. But most of all he showed me that no matter how stressful practicing law could be, it could be done with a smile, a laugh and kindness.
Thanks to Darrell, for the last 20 years I have loved what I do, loved where I work, and loved the people I work with.
David P. Horton
Templeton Horton Weibel, PLLC
Darrell was one of the most positive people I have ever known. All the time, even when faced with his final challenge. He always had a smile; it was always a joy to be with him; he was always generous. I wish everyone could be more like him. I wish I could be more like him.