RENAISSANCE WOMAN: Alfreida Upshaw passed away at age 77 on Jan. 15.
By MICHELLE HOLLINGER
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Alfreida Upshaw lived her life in a way that defied conventional “left-brain,” “right-brain,” notions. As a scientist, fashion model, event planner, business consultant and more, Upshaw drew from her entire brain. A true Renaissance woman, Upshaw died on January 15 at age 77 following a fall.
She leaves a legacy of “delicate strength,” that she exemplified throughout her life, said daughter, Cheryl Turner, Upshaw’s only child. Hers was, “Not an abrasive, loud; it was a quiet, gentle, but there was a strength there… It was a sound of confidence. You didn’t have to be loud to be heard. You didn’t have to talk a lot to say something important.”
Alfreida Delois Jones was born on May 12, 1940 to Beatrice and Alfred Jones. She arrived defying the odds; born three months prematurely and weighing in at just two pounds. Their parents placed a strong emphasis on education for Upshaw and her sister, Roslyn Bomar.
Upshaw graduated from Tuskegee University (B.S. Chemistry/ Masters of ScienceGeorge Washington Carver Fellow). A native of Detroit, she worked as an Automotive Manufacturing Engineer (Ford Motor Co), a Dental Research Chemist (Kerr Manufacturing, where she holds two patents for a mouthwash and a gel for children) and Sr. Technical Automotive Sales Rep. (BASF Coatings & Colorant Division).
Upshaw was also a fashion model, gracing the runway for several venues throughout Detroit.
During retirement she founded and operated “It is Connection, Talent & Booking Agency.” After 17 years in Detroit, she relocated to Ft. Lauderdale in 2010.
With all her accomplishments, Upshaw’s role as mother was one where she taught her greatest lessons. One of which was, “the difference between being just a woman versus being a lady,” Turner shared.
“Just because you have female body parts does not make you a lady. It all lines up with character, your spirit, your whole being. It’s how you carry yourself when you walk into a room.”
Turner said her free-spirited demeanor nearly resulted in her turning down admission into West Point Academy; but her mother was not having it. Turner said her mother surmised that if West Point is interested in her, she was obligated to at least check it out. She did, reluctantly; and to Turner’s surprise, she was accepted.
In addition to associating with many jazz, blues and gospel artists, Upshaw has worked with a number of Motown artists, including Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Miracles, The Four Tops, Freda Payne, George Clinton and The Funkadelics, The Dramatics, The Velvelettes, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Mary Wilson, Carolyn Crawford, Carl Carlton, and Joe Billingslea & The Contours.
Her many talents include producing “Motown Sings Gospel,” to delving into the art world; and she was an agent and advocate for Master Daniel Austin, founder of “INTERPRESSIONISM,” Art Movement and Philosophy.
“Alfreida was so vibrant as she learned and appreciated the arts, a truly sophisticated, fabulous woman. The Members of Professionally Fabulous will miss her. She was the epitome of what we represent,” shared friend Priscilla Dames, founder of Professionally Fabulous.
Upshaw was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., National Notary Association, National Association of Professional Women, (Woman of the Year, 2010-2011), National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment, Motown Alumni Association, Inc., Corporate Member of the Detroit Metro Convention Bureau, Friends of African American Research Library Cultural Center, Florida Nonprofit Foundation, FABULOUS Women, Scleroderma Foundation, NSU Museum of Art, Tuskegee Alumni Club, Broward County, and People Helping People Ministry, Inc. She worked with the Theatre of Creative Consciousness of the Arts and served on the Missionary Board of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church. Upshaw visited the sick and shut in, gave of her time and talents.
In addition to her daughter Cheryl Turner, Upshaw’s survivors include her son-in-law, Clifford Turner, grandsons and their wives, Remy and Brittany Hammock, and Paris and Marion Hammock, great-grandsons Myles and Deacon Hammock, goddaughter, Linda Dudley and cousins Richard McDonald, Eleanor and George Butler.
Services were held.