Richard Harlan Middleton was born May 26, 1933, presumably in Kansas City, Mo. When he was 13 months old, he was adopted from an orphanage in Kansas City which has since burned down to the ground along with all the records. He was adopted by Carl and Martha Middleton of Iola.
They were the only parents he ever knew or needed. Dick became a lifelong Jayhawk. He attended Iola High School where he played varsity football and basketball, graduating in 1951. He then attended Iola Junior College where he played football. He moved on to the University of Kansas majoring in chemistry.
While in high school, he met Mary Lind. They fell in love and married after graduating. They lived together as a loving devoted couple for over 70 years until Dick’s passing at age 89 on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. They had five children: Mary Christine Middleton, Lodi, Calif., Carla Suzanne Mele, Cincinnati, Ohio, Richard Todd Middleton, Northfield, Minn., Kenton Joseph Middleton, Pleasant Hill, Calif., and Barrett Andrew Middleton, Pottsville, Pa. He also leaves 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren, all of whom were the light of his life.
After college, Dick and Mary moved to Kansas City, Kan., where he was employed by Sealright Co. Inc. as an Assistant Quality Control Chemist. He later moved into field sales for KVP Sutherland. He remained with that company through a series of name changes until his retirement in 1996. His business transfers were frequent in those days. The family lived in six different cities by the time the children had grown up and left home.
When the three boys got old enough for Little League baseball, they along with Dick spent every possible moment at the ballpark. When fall came, he and the boys spent all the time they could at the football field.
After retirement, Dick became a highly engaged volunteer at Garfield Farm Museum, a nearby historic farm. His specialty was oxen driving and he also served on the board of directors. When the couple moved to Kentucky in 2005, Dick got serious about wood carving and took as many classes as he could to improve his carving skills. He was an active member of three local carving clubs and served on the board of directors of River Valley Carving Club. Over the years he entered as many carving competitions and expositions as possible and won two Best in Show awards in two different years at the Kentucky State Fair as well as more blue ribbons than you could shake a stick at.
Dick possessed an invincible zest for life, a keen intellect, the wit and flamboyance of the best of storytellers, as well as a sense of loyalty that knew no bounds. He was also unsparingly honest and did not suffer fools gladly. For all those traits and more, he was well-loved and respected by family, friends, fellow-carvers, neighbors and passing dog-walkers.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, with a visitation from 9:30 a.m. to 11 at Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions – Northern Kentucky Chapel, 4350 Dixie Highway, Erlanger, KY 41018.