Curtis Upsher, Jr. was a giver in life – as a community leader in Pittsburgh – and in death – as a tissue and cornea donor. A husband and grandfather above all else, Curtis was, even at an early age, also a pioneer in Pittsburgh’s Black community. As a youngster, at Miller Elementary school, Curtis played baseball for the Dodgers, one of the many renowned Black baseball teams in Allegheny County. He was an original, founding member of The Black Student Union at Millersville University. And after graduating with both his bachelor’s and master’s degree, Curtis returned to Pittsburgh to become the longtime director of community relations at UPMC Community Care in Pittsburgh Organization (CCBHO), spending his career working in social work, psychology, drug rehabilitation, and cultural diversity.
As a final act of love and generosity, Curtis was a tissue and cornea donor. Curtis’ wife, Lisa, the longtime National Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP®) director at CORE, finds comfort and healing in knowing how Curtis’ kindness and compassion will ultimately heal those in need.
Curtis’ skin was recovered and could make reconstructive procedures possible following mastectomy in breast cancer patients—something especially personal and important to Lisa, a breast cancer survivor herself.
Curtis’ corneas were recovered to offer the precious gift of sight to two people, who, even though they didn’t know Curtis, will think of him each time they see the new day clearly and continue a life of independence.
This Juneteenth, DLPA would like to celebrate Curtis’ pioneering and generous life and legacy, and others like him.
Register today to be an organ donor and your story goes on and on.