Rumors Perry Upchurch was murdered untrue; cause of death appears to be stroke
Perry Upchurch, a prominent gay design consultant from Dallas, was found dead in his hotel room on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand, on April 5. He is believed to have died from a stroke.
Upchurch had arrived for a visit that weekend and spent Sunday with friends touring the island.
Because Upchurch fell and hit his head, police initially suspected foul play but later ruled it out.
Former Dallas retailer Ken Knight called Upchurch "the eternal Southern frat boy."
Upchurch graduated from Wake Forest University and lived in Memphis before moving to Texas in 1975. He had several design-related businesses in Dallas.
His current business, Perry Upchurch Design, was a retail and wholesale consulting firm on Hall Street at Oak Lawn Avenue.
One of Upchurch’s recent clients was Nicholson-Hardie Nursery and Garden Center on Lovers Lane in Dallas. In the July 2009 issue of Garden Center magazine, Nicholson-Hardie credited Upchurch with tripling their gift and home dÃ©cor sales since 2007.
Before moving to Dallas, Upchurch lived in Memphis and opened stores across the South for furniture retailer John Simmons.
While working for Simmons, Upchurch became a partner in Brandon Christopher Inc., a Dallas showroom at Dallas Market Center. He moved here and became president of the design, merchandising and marketing service for retail and wholesale showrooms.
That was the first of a number of Market Center businesses he owned and managed through his career.
In 1981, he became director of the Omnibus Collection for Fitz and Floyd in Dallas and Nagoya, Japan. In 1986, he opened his own wholesale gift and stationery showroom called Grynnen Barrett.
He opened Up-Designs Co. Inc./Make Somebody Happy Co. in 1995, importing products from Asia, Mexico and Europe sold at his Dallas Market Center showroom. Among the business connections he developed were in Thailand, where he moved in 2003.
He lived on Koh Samui, a tropical island off the coast of Thailand for four years. There he was director of marketing and sales for Frangipani Bay Co./Make Somebody Happy (Thai) Co.
In 2007, when he returned to Dallas, he opened Upchurch Design doing retail and wholesale merchandising and marketing and retail import consulting.
His dogs were rescue animals and he was a big supporter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) both here and in Thailand.
Upchurch is survived by his parents Bill and Beth Upchurch of Durham, N.C.; two sisters, Kay Upchurch Brooks and Sarah Upchurch Owen; and his beloved rescue dog Ms. Bentley.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 16, 2010.