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Middleton remembered as dedicated public servant

A former long-time Butler County official described as “ the essence of a professional” by those who knew and worked at her side has passed away. Carolyn Rogers Middleton, who served as Butler County’s tax assessor for nearly 30 years, died on Sunday, July 1. She was 76.

Middleton had worked in the tax assessor’s office for five years when she was first elected to the office in 1978, after fulfilling the expired term of A.L. “Rock” Killough.

At the time of her retirement in September 2007, she admitted making the decision to leave office after so many years of dedication to the job was a bittersweet one. However, Middleton, who at the time was also a wife, mother, grandmother and daughter of an aging parent, said she wanted to spend her golden years caring for and enjoying her family.

The longtime tax assessor, who ran successfully for the position five times, three times unopposed, lauded Butler County’s citizens for their support of her throughout her years in office.

“The people of Butler County have been wonderful to me . . . I’ve always made this job and its duties a priority over everything else and I do appreciate the confidence the public has placed in me. I’ve certainly tried to put their needs at the forefront in every decision I’ve made,” Middleton told The Greenville Advocate.

Deborah Crews, the county’s current revenue commissioner, recalls working with Middleton at the courthouse. She remembers a woman with a true zest for her life’s calling.

“Mrs. Middleton truly loved her job as tax assessor. I count it a great privilege to have known her and worked with her. She was such a fine person. As an official, she served the people of Butler County with the highest of ethical and moral standards.”

Allen Stephenson, former Butler County circuit clerk, described Middleton as a consummate professional who lived by the Golden Rule at work and in life in general.

“Carolyn treated people the way they should be treated. And because she did, people truly had confidence in her, both in and outside of the office she held. I would have to say she was one of the finest Christian women I’ve ever known.”

Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman remembers “Miss Carolyn” as a “kind, caring, dignified public servant.”

“I will never forget how very supportive and welcoming she was to me when I first took office. My heart certainly goes out to her family.”

Becky Till was a longtime co-worker who saw Middleton as more than a boss. She was family.

“We actually grew up together on Second Street in Greenville, went to church together and graduated from the same class at Greenville High School together . . . we even did a little double dating early on before she and Al got married,” Till recalls.

After returning to the area following several years living elsewhere, Till learned through her mother that her old friend was looking for an additional employee for her office at the courthouse.

“And so I went to work for Carolyn in 1983 and worked for her for 24-and-a-half years. When she decided to leave, so did I. We retired at exactly the same time.”

Till remembers Middleton as “a great person to work for . . . kind, considerate . . . always understanding of me as a parent sometimes needing time off.”

Getting to work alongside someone who was a life-long friend was truly a blessing, Till says.

“Not only were we good friends; our mothers were friends. And our families were always close. Even though Carolyn and I didn’t get to see each other all that often after retirement, we stayed in touch. We talked regularly—and we always told each other we loved each other during every conversation. I am truly going to miss her. A lot of people will. ”

Middleton is survived by her husband Allen “Al” Middleton, who operated a barbership downtown for many years; daughter Melissa Houghton and her husband Joel; three grandchildren, Will, Leah and Sam Houghton, as well as her brother, Jimmy Rogers and additional extended family.

Funeral services for Carolyn Middleton will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 3 at the First United Methodist Church of Greenville with Reverend Angie Long and Reverend Joe Lisenby officiating and Dunklin & Daniels Funeral Home directing. Visitation will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the funeral home prior to the services, with burial to follow in Magnolia Cemetery in Greenville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the FUMC Organ Fund or the charity of your choice.