Stevie Michael Middleton was born Feb. 11, 1944, at 5:40 a.m. in Phillips Dupre Hospital in Levelland, Texas.
Because of the war, Dr. Dupre was the only physician in town. Feeling there was plenty of time, the doctor had just gone home for a much needed rest.
Stevie was delivered into the hands of a totally agitated father a very short time later. An unusually strong bond continued throughout their lives. Steve died just as suddenly Aug. 22, 2013. He was standing on his feet with two beautiful hospice angels supporting him on either side.
Steve and Ruby Daniel were married Jan. 26, 1963, in Morton where they both attended school. Steve was an all-around athlete and excelled in all sports. An opportunity to play quarterback for Texas Tech was quelled when he sustained a compound leg fracture while playing American Legion baseball the summer of 1962.
He transferred to East Texas State University Commerce, now known as Texas A&M University-Commerce, where, as had his father before, earned his letters in basketball.
His senior year he was named Lone Star Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. The prior season, ETSU had the questionable pleasure of playing Texas Western El Paso. Texas Western won the NCAA national championship that year, and the game was later made into the movie “Road to Glory.”
He attained an undergraduate degree in biology/P.E. and his M.S. was in biology. One of Coach Middleton’s more significant accomplishments was that in 1980, along with the late John Seddon and Midwestern State University’s late Coach Gerald Stockton, was the establishment of the Fantasy of Lights Basketball Tournament in Wichita Falls.
Steve began his coaching career in Gonzales as the varsity basketball coach, and after that held the same position in Quanah. He was varsity basketball coach at Wichita Falls High School for 18 years and assistant golf coach at S.H. Rider High School for 16 years.
During his 40 years as an educator and coach, he formed many lifelong friendships. He especially felt a deep affection for his players and the other young men and women in his classrooms. Perhaps his greatest legacy was the most simple of all: he felt that he had led a very good life, and he was an extraordinarily good man.
Steve was preceded in death by his grandmother, Florence Price (Grannie) Zuber; his parents, James (Jim) Elish Middleton and Dora Velma Zuber Middleton; a brother, Gary Delton Middleton; and a son-in-law, David Graden Russell.
He is survived by his wife, Ruby: daughters Stephanie M. Middleton and Stacy Russell Middleton; grandchildren Tate Davidson Russell, Marilyn Paige Russell and Eva Graden Russell; a nephew/son, Darin Shane Middleton and wife Holly and their children, Kenady, Aysia Leigh, and Arden; a brother in spirit, Weldon A. Tabor and wife Brenda Nichols Tabor and their children, Tana, Trent, and T.J.; grandchildren, Krislenn Taylor, Kler Fairchild, Kase Fairchild, Tabor Christanelli, Carter Christanelli and Ryann Tabor; great-grandson Jake Taylor; and sisters-in-law Clara Daniel Coupland and husband Don, Patsy Middleton Brown and husband Lee and Jacqueline Middleton and daughter Meghan.
A celebration of life service will be Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Lunn’s Colonial Funeral Home chapel in Wichita Falls. Those attending are asked to wear bright, happy colors to help make this a true celebration.
Those wishing to send memorial donations instead of floral tributes, may do so to the Humane Society of Wichita County; www.humanesocietyofwichita.org; P.O. Box 3648, Wichita Falls, 76301; or to a charity of choice.
Online condolences may be made at www.lunnscolonial.com