Frederick S. Upton Foundation
Frederick S. Upton and Frederick S. Upton Foundation
Nearly 350 years ago, John Upton immigrated to Massachusetts from Scotland. Two hundred and forty years, and nine generations later, Carrie Blodgett Upton and Cassius Marcellus experienced the birth of their second son, Frederick Stanley Upton, on June 20, 1890 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Within a year, the couple moved their family of five children (two boys and three girls) to LaGrange, Illinois.
Tragically, at age 13, Frederick's father had a fatal streetcar accident. From then on, Frederick and older brother Louis worked before and after school to help support the family. Mrs. Upton churned butter and collected eggs for the boys to deliver to neighbors before school. Once dismissed, Frederick and Louis hurried home to clean nearby horse barns before darkness set in.
After graduation from Lyons Township High School, Frederick followed his brother to St. Joseph, Michigan, to join him and their uncle Emory in the manufacture of electric washing machines at the Upton Machine Company. His first duties were to help assemble, crate, and deliver machines. When the first 100 machines sold failed to operate due to a faulty transmission gear, the purchaser threatened to return the appliances. Fortunately, quick solutions salvaged the business transaction.
Frederick continued to believe in the company and its employees as it grew from its small beginnings in 1911, when only a small number of handmade machines were sold, to become the world's largest manufacturer of home appliances and a household name. Frederick held positions of officer and director through the company's two name changes - the Nineteen Hundred Machine Company (1929) and the more familiar name, the Whirlpool Corporation (1950). The once small numbers of handmade machines became untold millions of products sold worldwide.
Work was not the only thing in Frederick's life. He met Margaret Beckley, once a basketball player on the girls team at Benton Harbor High School. After her graduation from Ypsilanti Teachers College in 1917, the two were married. The couple had four children: David Frederick, Stephen Edward, Priscilla Jane, and Sylvia Carol. In the years to come, the Upton family grew with the addition of Frederick and Margaret's 16 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
Though the silver?haired, handsome, country gentleman lived a slower?p aced lifestyle, he worked within the sophisticated, fast track of the business arena to develop one of the world's largest manufacturing industries, the Whirlpool Corporation. It was the wealth from this successful company that allowed him to form the Frederick S. Upton Foundation in 1954. Through the Foundation, Frederick and Margaret gave millions of dollars to the communities they treasured. However, it was the decent "common touch" of a loving family man most citizens remembered about Frederick and reciprocated with affection.
In 1975, after 58 years of marriage, Margaret Upton passed away. With her death, came Frederick's retirement from the corporate world. He continued to head the Foundation for another 11 years until his passing.
Today, the surviving Upton children operate the Foundation and carry on the mission created nearly 44 years earlier - to serve the needs of others in communities the Uptons call "home."