Born January 9, 1922 in Shamokin, Pa, he was the son of the late Homer Edward Middlesworth and Bertha Rearick Middlesworth. Following graduation from high school he was married to Betty Rebecca May on June 7, 1941. She preceded him in death in 1991.
Mr. Middlesworth served in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Panama, during World War II and he was one of six brothers serving, all of whom returned home. However, he lost his brother Bob whom he served with in the Army National Guard in the Korean War.
He had a long and enjoyable career in Statesville beginning in 1941 with the Statesville Record and Landmark, a family business which spanned over fifty years in different capacities. During that time he took classes to keep up with the new technology of newspaper printing. He had a newspaper route for over twenty years in Statesville and also as a young boy in Pennsylvania. He worked many years at Printcrafters and Brady Printing Company as well as Newtown Theater.
He was an employee of the YMCA of Statesville and although he did not learn to swim until he was 70, he was still teaching swimming to 2nd graders and special needs children shortly before his death.
Mr. Middlesworth was a member of Western Avenue Baptist Church and a former longstanding member of St. John’s Lutheran Church. He was a member of VFW Post 2031 in Statesville and a member of his brother Glenn’s post in Connecticut.
Lee was a fitness buff, walking regularly at Mac Anderson Park and impressing others with his chin ups. He had been a champion high school wrestler at 101 lbs. Two great-grandsons also wrestle. “Pappy” rarely missed a grandchild’s gymnastics meet or ball game. He also enjoyed the Atlanta Braves and the Statesville Owls Baseball.
Lee learned baking from his mother and used this skill in the Army & Navy. He regularly made birthday cakes for his family as recently as last month.
He enjoyed Big Band and Classical music, old movies, the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmas, puzzles and Parcheesi board game.
He loved learning, taking Spanish classes at Mitchell Community College and reading regularly. He enjoyed traveling with his family and ”people” watching, but he always loved Statesville the best.
Lee was a great story teller, especially tales of his childhood with his many siblings.
He loved children: his own and many adopted ones and they flocked to “Pappy Lee’s” smile and playful nature.
He enjoyed the move of his oldest daughter, Winnie, to Statesville just six months ago.
Most importantly, he will be remembered as a humble, generous, gentle man who actively lived his Christian faith and put others before himself.
In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Kathy Long, and was the last family member of 15 brothers and sisters.
He is survived by three daughters, Winifred (Winnie) M. Nowacoski (Dennis), Janet Lee M. DeRock, and Robin M. Wilson (Gregory), all of Statesville, six grandchildren, Tammy Zanolini, Kimberly Mellinger, Christopher Long, Andrew DeRock, Virginia Wilson and Mitchell Wilson. Seven great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, including Chester P. Middlesworth of Statesville, also survive.
The family will be assembled at the home of Janet DeRock, 955 Sherwood Lane, in Statesville.
A service to celebrate the life of Mr. Middlesworth will be conducted 2:00 PM Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at Western Avenue Baptist Church with Dr. James Cartin officiating. Burial with military honors will follow in the Oakwood Cemetery. Active pallbearers will be Andrew DeRock, Mitchell Wilson, Spencer and Kyle Millinger and Micah and Josiah McCoy.
The family will visit with friends on Wednesday 12:30 until 2:00 PM at Western Avenue Baptist Church.
Memorials may be made to Western Avenue Baptist Church, 1206 Museum Road, Statesville, N.C. 28625 or to the YMCA of Statesville, 828 Wesley Drive, Statesville, N.C. 28677.
Online condolences can be made to the family at www.nicholsonfunerals.com/obituaries and Nicholson Funeral Home is serving the family of Mr. Lee Harding Middlesworth.