Advocate for young, disabled dies at 83

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

An Ironton man who was long an advocate for children, the disabled and senior citizens has died. James Middleton was 83.

Born in Harlan County, Ky., Middleton settled in Ironton after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II and worked in quality control at the old Dayton Malleable.

In the late 1950s, he became active in the move to open a school for the mentally retarded and developmentally disabled in Ironton and served as the founding vice-president for the Open Door School when it opened in 1961.

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He later served on the Lawrence County Board of Mental Retardation /Developmental Disabil-ities. Paul Mollett, MR/DD Superintendent said he always respected Middleton’s tireless effort on behalf of those with disabilities.

“He worked in our system for many, many years and had been a very active advocate for those with MR/DD,” Mollett said.

Middleton was also on the Choices board, another agency serving those with special needs and was instrumental in establishing Middleton Estates, a housing community for those with disabilities in Gallipolis.

Middleton was also a member of Central Christian Church. He helped start a food pantry there and was active in Cub Scout Pack 109.

He also served in other lay capacities.

Middleton was also on the board of the Area Agency on Aging District 7, which aids senior citizens. In 1995, he was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

He was also active in numerous other local causes.

“He always helped people who couldn’t help themselves,” his daughter, Mary Lee Kennedy recalled. “He had an interest in the old, the young, the rich, the poor, the healthy and the sick who resided in our area.”

In addition to Kennedy, Middleton is survived by a daughter, Carla Middleton, a son-in-law, Robert Kennedy, three granddaughters and a great-granddaughter.

His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Central Christian Church.