Earth & Energy

Charlotte environmentalists mourn Bill Gupton

Bill Gupton was one of about 30 demonstrators gathered outside the Duke Energy Center in February 2014 to protest a spill of coal ash into the Dan River.
Bill Gupton was one of about 30 demonstrators gathered outside the Duke Energy Center in February 2014 to protest a spill of coal ash into the Dan River. The Charlotte Observer

A celebration of his life will be held next week for Bill Gupton, a Sierra Club leader and environmentalist from Charlotte who died Tuesday.

The Observer archives picture Gupton among protesters outside Duke Energy’s headquarters last year after the coal ash spill into the Dan River. He was grinning under a green hard hat emblazoned with environmental stickers.

“Bill has been an extraordinary force for the Sierra Club here in North Carolina for many years. He was a leader for the Central Piedmont Group and the North Carolina Chapter. His spirit, passion and the dedication that he brought to the Sierra Club in our fight to protect the environment will not be forgotten,” state chair Steve Copulsky wrote on the club’s memorial page.

Gupton served as chair of the club’s Central Piedmont Group and vice chair of the state chapter.

In Charlotte, he was a passionate voice for the environment. Gupton fought a biomass energy project at ReVenture Park and supported Sierra’s Beyond Coal campaign. He played a key role in organizing North Carolina residents to attend climate-change events in Washington, D.C., and New York.

“Bill was the leader who we could count on to rally the troop,” the state Sierra chapter said.

Sustain Charlotte named Gupton its Overall Outstanding Leader at its annual awards event in 2013. He also worked with the Durham advocacy group NC WARN in fighting Duke Energy rate hikes.

“He was a formidable ally,” said WARN director Jim Warren. “Everybody liked him and he did an important job for us.”

Gupton had returned to Charlotte after spending much of his career in pharmaceutical marketing in New York and Pennsylvania. He’s survived by his wife Nancy Yudell; stepsons Adam and Mark Segal; sister Janet Gupton Holt; daughter Katie Gupton; and nieces Anna Holt Upton and Meredith Holt.

A gathering to celebrate his life will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, at Charlotte’s RibbonWalk Nature Preserve, where Gupton led numerous service outings.

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