Douglas Allen Upchurch

July 13 2020

Age 51, Houston, Portland


with husband Chuck Dillard

Our beloved Douglas Allen Upchurch passed away peacefully at home on July 13, 2020. Doug was born on December 5, 1967 in Houston, Texas, where he lived until he graduated from Sharpstown High School. He attended Baylor University and graduated with a BA degree. After college he used his considerable IT and communication skills to begin a career in IT training.

Doug was a lifelong learner and loved to share his knowledge with others, beginning with his little sister when he was only four years old. Doug was gifted with a natural ability to understand the dynamics of human relationships and he had excellent presentation skills which led to a successful career in learning development and training. Those abilities also blessed him with countless grateful clients, colleagues and friends. He made the world a better place by focusing on being Brave, Real, Loving and Human. Doug was a member of St. David of Wales Episcopal Church who nourished his body and soul, especially over the last few months.

Doug is survived by his husband, Charles A. (Chuck) Dillard; his parents Susan and Don Upchurch of Houston, TX; his sister Donna Keller and husband Greg, and his beloved niece Kristen Keller, also of Houston, TX; his grandmother Donna Gaulding of Hernando, MS; his uncle Allen Gaulding and wife Kathy of North Little Rock, AR; and numerous cousins. Doug’s family would like to express their appreciation to Insights Learning Development, Too Amaze Inc, the St. David of Wales congregation and to the countless friends and colleagues for their gifts of love and support. Doug was a gift we will all cherish for years to come!

—provided by Don Upchurch

Doug discovered Insights having experienced his first Insights Discovery Profile in 1999. This began a love affair that lasted more than two decades. It will continue to endure through his legacy and the Community of which he was so much a part.
Doug had found a home with Insights where he knew he could be safe, fulfilled and free to grow. His commitment was such that he founded the very first Insights US office in Austin in October 1999. He built a thriving business, surrounding himself with wonderful people.

Twin themes in Doug’s career with Insights – in fact in his life – have always been adding maximum value and growing as a human being. After a couple of years, Insights Austin was very well established. Doug wanted to play a significant role in the development of our wider organization. In addition to owning and leading Insights Austin, Doug took on a second major role as Channel Manager for North America, working with Bo Furer. Together, Doug and Bo were a formidable team. They created a strong community which was to form the basis of our growth.

After only a few months, Bo (Uncle Bo, as Doug affectionately called him), had a major stroke, which left him unable to work. Doug, as he always did, stepped up to the plate to become CEO of our North America business from 2003-2005.

We formed a small strategy group that included Lynne-Marie Howden, Vivien Buchan, myself and, of course, Doug. The “Global Alignment Group (GAG)” was set up to seek to join up the activities of our then very disparate business. The relatively established UK, the growing North America and the nascent “International” business (everything else) were a bit disjointed.

In a two-day, 1-1 brainstorming session in New York in 2005, he and I explored how his gifts might best serve in the new world. Doug realized what was needed – a cohesive, purposeful Community. He emerged from that meeting in a new role, created so that he could serve in his highest and best use - Head of Community Development. That role was one that never left him, even though he had many other titles in his time with Insights. He continued with that title, though, until 2010.

Selfless always, it was then that Doug suggested to me that Insights buy out his majority stake in Insights Austin, so that we could use that organization as the foundation stone of our entire US business. He was prepared to allow the child he had brought into the world to be free to find its own future. We bought Doug’s shares in 2007. Austin remains our Home Office in the US to this day.

We renamed GAG to the Global Strategy Team (GST). In dedicating himself to the growth, now, of our Global Business, Doug was fully part of creating the Purpose, Values, Vision and Strategy that we are still committed to today. There were many seminal meetings of GAG/GST over the years, each one representing an inflection point in our story, and each one involving Dougby in all his brilliance, eccentricity and wisdom. But the one that stands out for me is the very first time we met Mike Dale, the brilliant strategy consultant who subsequently became our Chairman. In September 2003, Vivien, Lynne-Marie, Doug and I stayed in the lakeside Cottage of a certain very generous Alan MacLachlan. Between them, Mike and Doug somehow managed to keep the rest of us on track. We emerged from our lakeside retreat with the Insights Strategy that was a beautiful, paradoxical balance of Mike’s Thinking and Sensing preferences and Doug’s wonderfully Intuitive Feeling approach.

With the Strategy in place and Insights Austin now the heart of the US organization, Doug went about following his heart and head into several different roles. Doug was always asking the question, “how may I serve?”. He would identify roles where he knew he would make a difference. We’d just say “go for it, Dougby!”

He and I had read Gordon McKenzie’s book “Orbiting the Giant Hairball”. Doug knew that Insights was the hairball, and he was in its orbit, landing in certain spots where he knew he was needed.

Those spots included Strategic Consultant to the Exec (2010-13), Head of People Development (2013-16), Learning Innovation Strategist (2016-17) and, in his last full year as an Insights employee, Chief Learning Architect, until December 2018.

In that year, we were considering deeply what is “core” for Insights. Doug helped us realize that Community was at the heart. But we were asking the question “What does the world need that we can provide?”. We were talking about the political, technological, economic, environmental and social disruption in the world. Doug nailed it again: his answer for Insights to all that disruption? “We have to rediscover our humanity.” That idea led to the brilliant book he wrote with Jo Eismont and Spencer Gillman: - “Rediscovering Human”. Another amazing legacy from an incredible man.

That work complete, Doug knew it was time to reinvent himself once more. He left Insights’ employment and established BRL Human early in 2019. He continued to work to support Insights on a consultancy basis right up until Monday 13th July 2020, when his soul moved into even higher orbit. As recently as May, he was supporting Insights to transform our flagship Insights Discovery accreditation into virtual format so that Insights could have a chance to survive the Covid-19 pandemic. Even that work has been receiving rave reviews. Dougby added value to his last breath.

Doug Upchurch gave Insights more than 20 years of dedicated, wise, experienced, brave, real, loving service. He was friend, counsellor, strategist, storyteller, coach, wizard, guru, propeller-head and obsessive. His personal journey was sometimes painful, always inspiring. Whatever demons he was facing himself, he would always get himself out of the way so that he could support anyone in our community who needed his help. He helped and supported me personally more than I could ever say, through good times and bad, raucous laughter and streaming tears.

Dougby, we love you. The threads of your legacy are woven through the fabric of our lives. You will be with Insights forever. The giant hairball is a much better place for having had you in it.

—provided by Andy Lothian

Doug was very active in the Houston chapter of PFLAG in the 1990s, including editing their newsletter. He went on their trip to DC in 1998, and was listed as being somewhere in this photo