Upper deck named for Clyde and Mary Middleton

On Monday, July 25, people from across Northern Kentucky and beyond flocked to the hall of the Fort Mitchell City Building to honor and celebrate the lives of Clyde and Mary Middleton.

The couple’s names will appear on the upper deck of the Dixie Highway on I-75 in Fort Mitchell.

The Middletons are well known among the founders of the current Kenton County and area Republican Party. Many state and county officials were on hand with friends and family to join in the celebration of the Middletons, which inspired many to get involved in politics, community activism and charitable efforts. .

Middleton’s four children, their spouses and families were in attendance, and his son John Middleton, clerk of Kenton Circuit Court, shared stories and memories of his parents. He was joined by siblings Richard, David and Ann.

Standing on their shoulders

Fort Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman welcomed the guests and introduced the speakers. He said he was proud the Middletons call Fort Mitchell home.

“I’m so excited to have these two represented because I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving for their dedication to the city,” Hehman said. “John said his mother, Mary, said she loves to travel, but it was nice to be home and she always thought of Ft. Mitchell House. The family was here 65 on Ft. Mitchell Ave.

Kentucky State Rep. Adam Koenig was one of many officials who spoke about the Middletons’ contributions.

“They broke the mould, paved the way for the rest of us to serve our fellow Northern Kentucky people and make it a better place,” Koenig said. “It’s an honor for me to be part of this,” he said. “…We lean on the shoulders of people like Clyde and Mary.”

To better understand the impact of the Middletons’ role in Northern Kentucky politics, it’s important to note the state’s history of where the state was when they first became involved, said the Kentucky Senate Leader Damon Thayer.

“I want to talk a bit about Clyde and Mary’s role in the Republican Party because there was a time when Northern Kentucky wasn’t dominated by Republicans like it is today,” Thayer said. . “When I think of early Republican party politics here, I think of some giants. I think of Jim Bunning, my mentor. I think of Dick Roeding who helped me get started in the State Senate, and I think of Clyde and Mary Middleton.

Early days

Thayer described the situation in the early 1960s.

“Did you know that Clyde ran for congress twice from here in Kenton County,” Thayer said. “Back then, you could hold Republican meetings in phone booths… That’s where the Republicans were, and I think about where we are today. At the time, there were only eight or nine Republicans in the state Senate. Now it’s completely reversed.

He and Clyde Middleton often met at the Optimists Club and reminisced about the past and the changes they had seen. At one point, he said, Jim Bunning and Clyde Middleton were alone in the Republican Party’s Northern Kentucky Caucus, and it took only five votes to become the Minority Leader.

“It’s a much bigger math equation now,” Thayer said. “But I think of those times when Jim and Clyde walked the halls of our state capitol. I wish I had been there to see it. Two law-making giants, making deals with Democrats who then ruled with an iron fist, and I look around at all the Republicans here today. I think, Adam, you’re right, we lean on the shoulders of people like Clyde and Mary Middleton.

About the Middletons

Clyde Middleton served as Kenton County Judge/Executive for eight years (1990-1998) and also served as a State Senator, the county’s first Republican Senator since 1901. Prior to his tenure as Judge/Executive, he served as a Senator from Kentucky 24e neighborhood for 19 years. He is credited with building the Republican Party in Northern Kentucky and was party chairman in Kentucky when Louie Nunn was governor.

John Middleton described his father’s legendary career. Clyde Middleton was born in Cleveland in 1928. After trying to study engineering, he decided to enlist in the US Navy and attended the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. This service brought him to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he met Mary, a native of Wausau, Wisconsin, at a ball. The couple continued their relationship when Clyde was stationed in San Diego, and Mary even visited him when he was posted overseas to Japan. The couple married in Wausau in 1954.

Clyde Middleton began his working life at Procter & Gamble, eventually landing in Cincinnati. The couple decided to move to northern Kentucky and bought a house in Fort Mitchell. Both became lifelong Republicans at the time and often spoke on national affairs at work and at home, John Middleton said.

He told how his mother was the first in the family to run for office.

“So when Clyde went on a business trip to Louisiana, he came back to his hotel room late at night with a message to call home, no matter how late it was,” said John Middleton. “So it was obviously very concerning with two young children at home at the time. He called frantically fearing the worst. Mary told him that everything was fine, but that she had decided to bring the State as a Republican.

Mary Middleton was the first Republican woman from Northern Kentucky to run for office, throwing her hat into the ring to represent the state in 1959. She didn’t win that race in a Democratic-dominated field, but she became the first president of the Kenton County Republican Women’s Club, first president of the Booth Hospital Women’s Auxiliary, and first president of the Northern Kentucky Heritage League. She also had a strong commitment to her volunteer work in the Salvation Army and other charitable endeavours.

Encouraged by his wife’s efforts, Clyde Middleton, who died in 2019, ran for state senator several times in the early 1960s, finally winning his seat in 1967. He then served in the Senate for nearly two decades.

“He has worked on a number of issues in the General Assembly including child rearing, mental health issues and legal issues, the latter of particular interest as he attended Chase College of Law at night while working as a senator,” John Middleton said. .

His father later sponsored a bill to bring Chase College of Law from the Cincinnati YMCA to Northern Kentucky University and led efforts to defend Chase when state efforts threatened to shut it down. John Middleton also noted his father’s efforts to protect Fort Wright, Edgewood, and other small towns from annexation by Covington.

After losing his seat, Clyde Middleton ran for Kenton County Judge/Executive in 1989. He won and became the county’s first Republican executive in nearly a century. He was proud of his work to build the county’s economic engine, his son said.

service to others

Both Middletons were involved in community activities, John Middleton said. Clyde Middleton served on the Kenton County Library Committee, which helped fund the Kenton County Public Library. Mary Middleton became president of the Salvation Army Ladies Auxiliary.

“Mary was active in a number of other charities, often as a fundraiser, but probably more important in her mind as a ‘pleasure collector’,” John Middleton said.

She has been recognized for her many years of helping others. She was named both Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year and Kentucky Post Woman of the Year. The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra awarded him his first Crystal Staff.

John Middleton closed his comments with some stories about his mother. Shortly after his death in 2011, he said he attended a Christmas party. Like most people, he was looking for people he knew. As he walked around, he said he thought about how his mother would have approached such an occasion.

“My mom wasn’t looking for people she knew,” John Middleton said. “She would look for people she didn’t know. And then she would sit with them, and she would talk with them and probably more importantly, she would listen and as she listened, she had this rolodex in her mind, thinking ‘what organization am I going to get these people into?’ And she did. Probably everyone in this room can make up a Mary Middleton story about how she got them involved. And maybe many of you fell victim to Mary’s observation of where you would have had the most impact for the most people, and we’re not so lucky for that.

He ended with another story about how his brother David saved their mother less than a year before she died.

“At the end, he stopped and asked her, ‘At your funeral, at your wake, what would you like people to know about you?’ She looked at the camera and said “Do good to others”.

He ended with a reminder of his mother’s words.

“So while passing this sign, remember to do good for others.”

Harry D. Gonzalez