LOXLEY, Alabama — Longtime Loxley Mayor Billy Middleton is being mourned by the community and the surrounding area. Middleton died Friday at home after a brief but hard-fought battle with cancer. He was 78.
Visitation for Middleton will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23 at the Loxley Church of God and on Friday beginning at 9 a.m. with funeral services at 10 a.m. at the church. Burial will follow at Greenwood Cemetery in Loxley.
Middleton was first elected to serve as Loxley’s mayor in 1988 and was serving his seventh term. He ran unopposed in the 2012 election, while no elections were held in Loxley in 2008 and 2016 because all incumbents ran unopposed.
“The Town of Loxley has always operated in a family atmosphere and this is like losing the head of our family,” said Mayor Pro Tem Richard Teal. “We are going to have really big shoes to fill, but I am confident that we as a council are going to move forward and continue to run the town the way Billy would have wanted.”
Teal said his relationship with Middleton as a father-figure goes well beyond the relationship between mayor and council member.
“I grew up here in Loxley, grew up in the Loxley Church of God where Billy was a member and he coached me in Little League,” Teal said. “I believe that I owe a lot of the success I’ve had in my life to his leadership and by following his example.”
According to the town’s website, under Middleton’s leadership, and with the cooperation of the Loxley Town Council, Loxley has been able to secure three Safe Route to School sidewalk projects; install two water supply wells and a water treatment plant; construct a new Waste Water Treatment Facility; build new Public Works Building; secure grants for sewer and drainage projects; start Loxley’s first Police Dispatch Department and build a police station.
“On behalf of the city of Robertsdale, I want to render our condolences and prayers to lift up the Middleton family,” said Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy. “Billy and I served together for 30 years and we always had a great relationship with him and the town. He did a great job for the citizens of Loxley and was always thinking forward. His leadership will be missed and again, we want to express our condolences to the family and to the town during this difficult time.”
During his tenure land was acquired and through donations and efforts by the Town Council and the citizens for the Loxley Municipal Park, Civic Center, Kid’s Playground, walking trail and three ball parks.
Middleton was recently honored, along with Murphy, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Kitchens from Robertsdale, Teal and Council Member Katherine Breeden for 30 years of service by the Alabama League of Municipalities.
“Loxley is really going to miss him,” Breeden said. “He was like my brother.”
Born in Loxley, Middleton is a life-long resident of Loxley, interrupted only by his service to our country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps (1960-1963). His successful career as a businessman, along with many years of community service prepared him for the role as the Town’s chief executive officer.
Middleton is a longtime volunteer in the community activities, having served as the Charter President of the Loxley Optimist Club (1980) and he has continued to serve in several capacities in the local club plus served as the Governor of the Alabama Mississippi District of Optimist International in 1988.
“He was a huge part of our Optimist Club. He was the glue that held everything together,” said the Rev. Jim Batchelor, pastor of the Loxley United Methodist Church and fellow member of the Optimist Club. “When I came here in 1998, he and John Chappell (with the Optimist Club) were the first people I met. I am proud to consider him a friend and a confidant, someone that I could go to for advice and he came to me for advice. I will miss him dearly.”
Middleton was also recently honored as the first inductee into the Optimist Club’s Legacy Society, presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for which a scholarship will be presented in his name each year to a Baldwin County student.
“The Loxley Optimist Club paved the way for all the other Optimist Clubs in Baldwin County,” said Jeff Keener, president of the Perdido Bay Club and lieutenant governor for the Alabama Mississippi District 29, Zone 6, during a ceremony held May 9. “We have learned so much from Billy through the years about what it means to give back to the community.”
He was a strong supporter of youth activities in the area and coached Little League Baseball for many years.
He was a member of the Loxley Church of God and was elected Central Baldwin Man of the Year in 1992.
Middleton was preceded in death by his parents, Edward D. and Susie Middleton; and sister, Bertha Sinclair.
He is survived by his wife, Lilly Middleton of Loxley; three sons, Jeff Middleton and Brian Middleton, both of Loxley, and Gavin (Jenna) Middleton of Panama City, Florida; two sisters, Mildred Taylor of Daphne, and Jeanette Katsinas of Columbus, Georgia; a brother, J.W. “Pete” (Nell) Middleton of Loxley; and three grandchildren, Presley, Bryson and Haddie; and by the citizens of the Town of Loxley.
The family requests memorial donations be made to the Billy Middleton Scholarship Fund c/o The Rewards Foundation, P.O. Box 56, Loxley, AL 36551, or to the Loxley Church of God, P.O. Box 499, Loxley, AL 36551.
Arrangements are by Mack Funeral Home & Crematory, Robertsdale.