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Gene Joseph Middleton
Birth: Aug. 13, 1937
Long County
Georgia, USA
Death: Jun. 30, 2013
Chatham County
Georgia, USA


Gene J. Middleton

August 13, 1937 - June 30, 2013

Ludowici, Ga.

Gene J. Middleton, 75 of Ludowici, GA. died Sunday in Candler Hospital after a short illness. The Long Co. native was a member of Compass Worship Center Church of God and was a retired truck driver. He enjoyed wild game hunting and shrimping. He is predeceased by two daughters, Juanita Middleton and Annette Driggers; 4 brothers, James, Alvin, Charles and Robert Middleton; a sister, Sweet Middleton.

Survivors are his wife of 37 years, Donna Richardson Middleton of Ludowici, Ga.; a son, Rev. Jay (Tina) Middleton of Ludowici, Ga.; a sister, Faye Middleton Harrison of Kingsland, Ga.; 9 grandchildren, Amy, Gene, Sara, Ashley, Kayla, Kristie, Rhonda, Amanda and Dennis; several neices and nephews.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at Compass Worship Center Church of God with Rev. Tommy Whaley and Rev. David A. Holton officiating. Interment will be in the Middleton Memorial Cemetery. Active pallbearers will be Tim and Tom Gardner, Gary Gordon, Stephen Middleton, Shane Middleton and Larry Middleton.

Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at the funeral home.



America was young when the man and his new bride moved into the sparsely populated woods of what is today called Long County Georgia. They built a home and a church both of which are still in use and they reared and raised twelve children; pioneer stock as surely as any who crossed the great plains heading west. Over the succeeding generations they built homes, raised crops and cattle, attended church, and occasionally buried kinfolks.

In time the descendants of Alex and Polly spread to north and central Florida, other parts of Georgia, and eventually all over the US. But there was always a line of the family that remained in that region of the Altamaha swamplands. Alex was the first buried in the church cemetery in 1858, and Polly joined him there in 1871. But their children and many of their children's children went on to careers as doctors, lawyers, businessmen, soldiers and sundry other walks of life elsewhere. Still there were the Middletons that remained in Long county who represented the backwoods existence, a sort of life much closer to the land.

My cousin was the best example of these. Born in 1937, he had lived his whole life within five miles of the house and church that his great-great grandfather Alex had built. From the perspective of a relative city dweller, Gene was the embodiment of the old-time Middletons of wiregrass Georgia. God in his perfect knowledge is the only one who knows how many hundreds of deer, thousands of squirrel, and tens of thousands of fish this man took in a lifetime in the swamps and piney-woods. To these people life was harsher, meaner, and all too often shorter.

I recall going with Gene when I was ten years old, to poach deer (not for a trophy, but for food to feed a family). He carried the gun, and I carried the spotlight, and we walked and "shined" most of the night it seemed. The time 3 O'clock sticks in my memory as the time Gene's wife was to pick us up alongside some lonely county road. And I recall the two of us lying on our backs in a ditch beside the road waiting on her to arrive. We looked up at the stars, and talked while we waited. I will cherish that memory always.

I will also cherish the afternoon forty years later that I spent riding around with Gene in his truck as he took me to various cemeteries and gravesites around the county. He did not understand why I wanted to know more "about all these here dead folks", but he respected my interest nonetheless. It gave me an opportunity to hear about family that was long dead when I was born. It also gave me another perspective on my own father dead these last 25 years. And of course it gave me time to get to know this favorite cousin of mine. As we rode along and I thought of the history of the area, I asked Gene if he thought anyone out here was still making moonshine. Without taking his eyes off the road he grinned and said "reach right back there behind my seat." I did and found a half consumed jar of sour mash whiskey of the sort that had never seen the stamp of a government inspector! Gene was never one to disappoint.

We talked about our grandfather and his reputation of being such a mean man, and Gene related his only memory of Grooms; of how as a boy he walked past the old man who sat on the porch chewing his tobacco. Grooms hauled off and spit his tobacco juice all down the front of Gene's shirt, and then leaning back in his rocking chair simply said "Now look at what you done".

Gene was not polished and gentlemanly (though he was always the gentleman in my mother's presence). Instead he was irreverent, bawdy, and seemingly into mischief. He could be quick witted sharp tongued even, but I have no doubt that if asked for it he'd give you the shirt off his back. As a boy I was in fear of him, and in awe of him, all at once. He had this outlaw air about him that I envied and admired, and even as a man now north of age 50, I still find myself thinking reverently of this backwoods cousin who in some ways was like a time traveler from the days when our folks were settlers in a harsh untamed land.

I got the news yesterday that Gene is dying of cancer. One of those cases where the person ignored the signals hoping that it would go away, and instead hears the doctor's dreaded pronouncement "you only have a short time to live". And only this morning I got the news that Gene had passed away in the night. I feel no shame in saying that I wept. Gene will be buried in the same place where his father, his grandfather, his great-grandfather, and his 2nd Great grandfather Alex are all buried.

Despite the many notables this family has produced down through the years, I feel that there is an equal amount of honor due to our pioneer ancestors. Gene Middleton personified all those woodsy earthy qualities that is the legacy of a lifetime spent in blue-collar jobs and backwoods pursuits. His was the honor of a long string of fish, or a prized turkey gobbler. To those of us who haven't lost sight of such things amid the shallow and glitzy distractions of modern materialistic America, men like Gene are easy to see as larger than life figures embodying the values of an older time.

Rest in peace cousin. I hope to see you on that other shore some bright morning.

Family links: 
  Claude Lawson Middleton (1907 - 1965)
  Ida Kate Davis Middleton (1910 - 1973)
  Kathleen Wanda Merritt Roe (1941 - 2014)
  Juanita Louise Middleton (1958 - 2005)*
  Annette Marie Middleton Driggers (1959 - 1996)*
  James Emmitt Middleton (1930 - 1988)*
  Ann Gertrude Middleton Scott (1932 - 1993)*
  Alvin Julian Middleton (1934 - 1999)*
  Gene Joseph Middleton (1937 - 2013)
  Charles Lawson Middleton (1939 - 1995)*
  Robert Vinning Middleton (1942 - 2013)*
*Calculated relationship
Middleton Memorial Cemetery
Long County
Georgia, USA
Created by: Tony Middleton
Record added: Jul 01, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 113142239
Gene Joseph Middleton
Added by: Tony Middleton
Gene Joseph Middleton
Added by: Tony Middleton
Gene Joseph Middleton
Added by: Tony Middleton
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took a long time to find you my friend rest in peace.
- sylvia mihalic
 Added: Jan. 24, 2015

 Added: Nov. 21, 2013
I am speechless - just speechless
- Tony Middleton
 Added: Jul. 1, 2013
This page is sponsored by: Tony Middleton

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