In Memoriam: Mary Upton

Mary Chandler Upton, PPAI’s former director of conventions, passed away on September 11, 2021 in Irving, Texas. She was 77.

Upton was one of a small number of PPAI staff who made the move from Chicago to Irving, Texas, when the Association relocated in 1979 and she remained with PPAI for more than 20 years. She was responsible for producing PPAI’s Summer Show and the annual Dallas Winter Show at the Dallas Convention Center for many years and later joined Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) where she helped launch the company’s series of industry trade shows.

Upton became familiar with the promotional products industry at an early age. Her father, Bob Rollings, held several positions beginning in 1959 in the organizations that later merged to become PPAI, and he was president of PPAI (then called Specialty Advertising Association) in the 1970s.

She was an avid volunteer in her community at Baylor, Scott and White Medical Center where she volunteered in the neo-natal ICU and hand-edged baby blankets that were distributed to expectant mothers, including donating hundreds of blankets to babies in Romania. She and her husband Barney Gibbs Upton, Jr. were longtime supporters of the Dallas Symphony, the Kimbell Arts Center and the Myerson Symphony Center. She was an avid listener of classical music, read dozens of books a month and enjoyed traveling the world with her husband, family and friends.

“Mary Upton was a well-respected and valued PPAI staff member as she shepherded the industry’s premiere Dallas Winter Show, as it was known, during her tenure,” says Steve Slagle, who was PPAI’s president and CEO from 1996-2011. “PPAI’s supplier members knew her as a firm but fair supervisor of the trade show’s exhibit hall, and while working with a very small staff she helped generate incredible growth with the Dallas Winter Show from the late ’70s into the late ’90s. I only worked with Mary for three years but knew that she loved the promotional products industry that she almost literally grew up in. She’ll be remembered by hundreds of PPAI members and ASI customers as a hardworking, competent and caring individual.”

Preceded in death by her parents and a sister Carlyn Ann Rollings Lay, she is survived by her husband; son Richard Carl Capodagli; daughter Carlyn Mary Capodagli Wooten; stepsons Ronald Capodagli and wife Jan; Timothy Albert Musson and wife Angela and Matthew Isaac Musson and wife Michelle; sister Roberta Rollings Doxey; brother Raymond Leith Martin Rollings and wife Karen, 24 grandchildren and 38 nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends from 6-8 pm on September 17 at Colonial Funeral Home of Irving, 606 West Airport Freeway, Irving, Texas. The funeral will be at 10 am on September 18 in the funeral home chapel. Burial will be later at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas.

filed under September 2021
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Comments (4)
Margaret Custer Ford
September 17, 2021
I remember Mary fondly, as I do her parents. Lovely lady, and ever caring and efficient! I am so sorry for your loss.
Kim Reinecker
September 16, 2021
Mary was such a joy and a fixture at PPAI. Loved her. God bless her family. Heaven definitely gained another precious angel.
Bob Barr
September 16, 2021
“The show is now closed”. RIP
Cliff Quicksell, MAS+
September 16, 2021
I am so sad to hear this news. Mary was one of the most pleasant, professional, and easy going person I ever met. Everytime I would see her at a show, she was always smiling, always welcoming, and had a GREAT heart...I really am so sad to hear this; too many kind and gentle people are leaving us too soon. RIP Mary, the world was better having you in it, and now your spirit will always be with us. Sad News
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