By Jackie Hampton,
When Richard Temple Middleton III departed his earthly home on June 24, 2021, the state of Mississippi and the entire world closed a book on an educator and a historian. A celebration of his life and of the Holy Eucharist was held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
The Rev. Brian R. Seage of The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi said at the homecoming celebration of his friend, “His educational fingerprints are known throughout Mississippi.” Seage said that Middleton was an incredible historian – a walking, talking history book. “He has affected so many people in our state and has planted seeds for generations to come,” he said.
Seage spoke to a church filled with family, friends, parishioners, city leaders, formal classmates, formal students and others sayin, “We are indebted to him for the stories he shared and his interpretation of history. He said stories of his life should continue to be told just like the stories he told of the lives of others throughout history.
Walter Davis, a long-time friend told The Mississippi Link, ”Richard was a proud, yet humble man, who had been parented (as was his siblings) to be hard-working, goal oriented, high achiever, God-fearing as well as a positive contributing force in the greater Jackson and Mississippi community.” He said, I have always been proud that we were Alpha brothers.”
Richard Temple Middleton III, born January 17, 1942, was the oldest child of Colonel Richard Temple Middleton II and Johnie Beadle Middleton.
Richard, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, was educated in the public schools of Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi, Chicago, Illinois and Tacoma, Washington. His undergraduate and master’s degrees were earned at Lincoln University of Missouri and his doctorate at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He was a Woodrow Wilson-King Fellow. After earning his master’s degree, Richard joined the military and was a First Lieutenant in the United States Armed Forces in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Middleton married Brenda Wolfe, a former Miss Tougaloo College, in 1968 and to this union two children were born-Jeanna Middleton Dampier and Richard Temple Middleton IV.
His professional career includes working as a professor of education at Tougaloo College, director of student teaching at Jackson State University, professor of educational leadership and an adjunct professor at Jackson State University.
He was an ordained Episcopal Priest and served as Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Vicksburg and later at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jackson, Mississippi from which he retired.
Richard was an accomplished writer and was very proud of his book entitled, “Eulogies and Memories” which is a collection of his personal funeral sermons and homilies. He has written articles for a number of scholarly journals and magazines, conducted numerous educational workshops and delivered many motivational presentations for various schools, colleges, churches and professional and civic organizations.
Middleton served on the National Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and at one time represented the Diocese of Mississippi.
He held membership in the following organizations: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, 100 Black Men of Jackson, Jackson 2000, Premier Class of Leadership Jackson, Who’s Who of Black Americans,The Union of Black Episcopalians, Pi Lambda Theta, Parents for Public Education, Smith Robertson Advisory Board, Advisory Board of Liberty Bank, Board of Margaret Walker Alexander Research Center, Board Member of St. Augustine College in Raleigh, North Carolina, Advisory Board of First American Bank, and was the only lay person to serve on the Examining Board Evaluation of University of Mississippi Medical Center.
He enjoyed reading and all genres of music. Middleton liked helping people and especially students. He considered his calling to be a shepherd to the sick. He was gregarious and a historian. He supported public education.
His greatest joy was that of being a good husband and father. Family was always first and he took pride in taking care of his family.
Richard hand wrote the “History of the Mississippi Middleton Family from the Early Twentieth Century Until the Current Time” (2019). His love and admiration for his father, Reverend Richard Temple Middleton II is manifested in that history. His father was, also, an Episcopal Priest and a college president which meant the family moved about. Richard’s ability to blend well with everyone was without a doubt born in that environment.
Middleton leaves to cherish his memory his wife Brenda of 52 years; two children – Jeanna Middleton Dampier and Richard Temple Middleton IV (Jessica); two brothers, Paul Beadle Middleton (Juliette), Michael Alfred Middleton (Julia); one sister, Jeanne Middleton Hairston (James deceased); eight grandchildren – Elizabeth Marie Dampier, Olivia Temple Dampier, Arthur Reginald Dampier, III, Elijah Denzel Dampier, Richard Temple Middleton V, Alonzo Jesus Middleton, Amanda Rose Middleton and Marco Rivas-Middleton and many other relatives, friends and students.
He will be remembered because of his loving and caring for others.