Upshaw Sr.

ROBERT ALLEN UPSHAW SR. served in the Camden Police Department's Communications Division for many years before retiring in 1991. He is the member of a family that has a long record of service in local law enforcement. One brother, Gilbert Upshaw served as a detective on the Camden Police Department and with the Camden County Prosecutors Office as a polygraphist,  his other brother Frank Upshaw served in the Patrol Division, and his sister Brenda Upshaw Cannon, served with the Camden County Sheriff's Department. A third brother, Jerome, served for over 30 years in the United States Air Force.

Robert Upshaw was the first child born in Camden to Allen Upshaw and his wife, Elizabeth Freeman Upshaw. The couple was living at 1028 Sycamore Street on April 4th of 1930, when the Census was taken, brother Robert then a newborn baby. Allen Upshaw, a Virginian by birth, was then working as an "automobile repairer". The Freeman family had been living in the neighborhood as far back as 1887, when they were in the 700 block of Baxter Street, a small street that runs between Sycamore Street and Kaighn Avenue.  The family would remain in the 700 block of Baxter Street through 1910, then move to the 900 block by the end of 1919. 1028 Sycamore Street was the home of maternal grandmother Emma Freeman. Her other children, John, Clifford, and Martha Freeman also lived at the address. 

When the 1947 Camden City Directory was compiled, the Allen Upshaw family lived at 1015 Kaighn Avenue. Allen Upshaw was then working as a driver. 

As a young man Robert Upshaw liked to workout with weights. Two local men who worked as, among other things, professional wrestlers, Doc Doganiero and Joe Montana, took an interest in him. Doc Doganiero had a Pharmacy in South Camden and gave Robert Upshaw helpful hints on strength training. Joe Montana, who was wrestling as far back as the early 1930s, resided in a home near Mt Ephraim Avenue and Liberty Street. Robert Upshaw would go to the Montana home, where the older man would take him through a good workout. 

Robert Upshaw had joined the Camden Police Department by 1961. Early in his career he partnered with Officer Clyde Waters. When Waters was killed while off duty, Robert Upshaw served as a member of the Honor Guard at his funeral.

While on the force Robert Upshaw was a member of the Camden Police Departments Powerlifting team. He became what is referred to in the sport as the Grand Master, remained in competition into his early 60s. Although he retired from the police department in 1991, he was still participating in competitive weightlifting to keep in shape as late as 1994. 

Besides weightlifting, Robert Upshaw is well known as a singer. He had the honor of singing for the dedication ceremony of the USS CAMDEN. The chief of police allowed him to perform in front of a packed hall of sailors from the ship, a moment which Mr. Upshaw remains quite proud of to this day. There were about 1500 sailors, policemen, and citizens attending. The Courier-Post published an article with his picture captioned the singing police officer. After that appearance he was asked to sing at the Philadelphia Tribune Home show in Philadelphia. The gift of voice runs to his children, a son is attending Westminster Choir, has the Music Baton and is doing very well with it. 


Suspect Taken To Detective Division For Further Investigation
Officer Robert A. Uphaw Sr. (at left) 
with Officer Clyde Waters making an arrest.

Camden Police Department Report - 1962
Page 31

Camden Courier-Post - March 8, 2007

Of Pennsauken, NJ. On March 5, 2007. Age 77.
A retired Camden City Police Officer affectionately known as 'Big Bob'.
He is survived by his wife Cynthia G. Upshaw, three sons, Robert Upshaw, Jr., Richard Upshaw and Michael Upshaw, two grand-children, a brother, Frank Upshaw, four sisters-in law, Ruby Upshaw, Jackie Johnson (Eric), Fay Copeland and Brenda Banks (William), his mother-in law, Hilda Harris, four brothers-in law, Malcolm Harris, Warren Harris (Victoria), Roger Harris (Patricia) and Richard Harris (Dorothy), a host of other relatives and friends.
Services Saturday 11:00AM at the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 202 Douglas Ave. (at Lincoln Ave), Haddonfield, NJ, where friends may call after 9:00AM. Interment Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, N.J.
A public viewing will be observed Friday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the CARL MILLER FUNERAL HOME, 831 Carl Miller Blvd., Camden.