NKY loses "first lady" of Kenton County in accident

2010: Clyde Middleton escorts his wife and KSO honoree, Mary, into the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra's "Dance to the Music" Gala held recently at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. (Source: Jim Fausz, KSO Photographer)
2010: Clyde Middleton escorts his wife and KSO honoree, Mary, into the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra's "Dance to the Music" Gala held recently at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. (Source: Jim Fausz, KSO Photographer)
Mary Middleton, taken 2010 (Source: Salvation Army)
Mary Middleton, taken 2010 (Source: Salvation Army)

FORT MITCHELL, KY (FOX19) - Officials say Mary Middleton, 83, was hit by a garbage truck just after 11 a.m. Tuesday morning on Fort Mitchell Avenue, just off Dixie Highway.

The accident is under investigation, and there is no word yet who is at fault. Police say the garbage truck, which is from Bavarian Waste, was on its daily route.

Middleton was the mother of Circuit Court Clerk John Middleton.

"She was a really special lady," said Middleton. "She was a ground breaker in Northern Kentucky in so many different ways…politically and socially, and in many ways you didn't hear about. The small things.  She had written a letter to a new neighbor.  It's on the desk.  She was going to send out."

Her husband, Clyde, is a former county judge and state representative.  But Mary was a community leader and advocate in her own right.  She supported the Salvation Army, Northern Kentucky Symphony, and a myriad of other organizations.

She was a stalwart supporter of the Republican Party, once running for state office in the 1950's.

"Mary was one of my very first supporters," said Charles Korzenborn, Kenton County Sheriff. "I was the first Republican Sheriff in 100 years and she wanted me in office so I got to know her through the last 20 years almost.  And of course Clyde, through her.  She was everybody's mother. And she was a person who had only one thing on her mind… what was good for the community and the people around it.  Mary's fine.  She's with her maker and she's with the Lord but people down here who've been left are going to miss her very, very much."

Middleton was part of the reason the Kenton County Republican Women's Club was formed.

"Mary was so beloved, her warm and loving personality," said Greg Shumate, Kenton County Republican Party chair. "She was the first lady of Kenton County. She just gave so much to our community and always had a kind word for everybody. Her leadership, by example, empowered so many women in Northern Kentucky to do great things."

The Salvation Army released the following statement:

The Salvation Army Mourns the Tragic Loss of a Beloved Volunteer
Mary Middleton, of Ft. Mitchell, Served Many Decades with The Salvation Army; Will be Dearly Missed

The Salvation Army today expresses its deep sympathy to the Middleton family for the tragic loss of Mary Middleton, a long-serving volunteer in Kenton County, KY. As reported by local media, Mary was killed in front of her home today when she was struck by a waste collection truck. Mary was known throughout the community for her many years as a bell-ringer volunteer at the iconic red kettles each Christmas, serving in that capacity for decades.

"Mary's death is a shock, and a tragic loss," stated Capt. Heather Holt, pastor of The Salvation Army Covington Community Center. "She was always a delight to be around, and so giving of her time, along with her family, in support of those in need. Her spirit of giving will be sorely missed.

Now, we entrust her to our Heavenly Father, knowing that she is with Him, and we pray that God will grant peace to her family and friends during this difficult time."

Mary Middleton served many years as a member of various Salvation Army auxiliary groups in Northern Kentucky. First, she was a member of the Booth Hospital Auxiliary, which reorganized as the Kenton County Auxiliary after the sale of the Booth Hospital. Mary was a founding member of The Salvation Army Kenton County Auxiliary, in 1990, and a past president of this group. She continued to serve as a dedicated volunteer and advocate for The Salvation Army, and was already recruiting volunteers to 'stand the kettle' this Christmas. In addition to her bell-ringing service and recruiting, Mary invited friends each year to visit The Salvation Army's Camp SWONEKY, to introduce them to the facility and encourage their support.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released the following statement:

"Elaine and I are profoundly saddened by the loss of Mary Middleton. Mary dedicated her life to serving her community and was committed to leaving everything she touched a little better off than it was before she found it. I know Northern Kentucky would not be the same if not for the timeless dedication of Mary and her family and there is no question she accomplished her goal of leaving it, and all who encountered her, better off. My deepest condolences go out to the Middleton family as they cope with this sudden tragedy."

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

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