Harpersville mourns death of councilwoman, teacher and friend

Published 8:32 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HARPERSVILLE—Shirley Middleton lived a life of service to others. Whether as a teacher, town councilwoman or friend, Middleton dedicated her life to her community.



Middleton was a Harpersville native and a lifelong member of the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. She served the Shelby County community as a high school teacher for more than 30 years, and her hometown as a town councilwoman for more than 28 years.

Middleton passed away on Oct. 20 at the age of 62 after a single-vehicle crash on U.S. 280.

“She was a staple around here,” Middleton’s former student and Harpersville Mayor Theoangelo Perkins said. “She taught me, and then I had the chance to come back and work with her… It’s been really tough for me.”

Throughout her life, Middleton’s passion was teaching. She began her career at Calera High School, but she spent the majority of her time at Vincent Middle High School.

“She was a really dedicated and committed educator, her life was teaching,” former Vincent Middle High School administrator Jim Barnes recalled. “She was well-loved by all the students and all the faculty. You couldn’t ask for a more dedicated educator.”

Her passion for teaching extended beyond the walls of the high school. Middleton often volunteered her time tutoring students and, on top of her duties as financial secretary, she led an adult women’s class at her church.

“She was a really faithful individual,” Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Clarence Carter said. “She made a big impact on the community (and) she helped children in a lot of ways.”

Middleton also gave back to her hometown. She served Harpersville for more than 28 years as the first African American councilwoman in Shelby County.

“She was really concerned about the community, about our town,” Perkins said. “She was not just a councilmember who came to meetings, she came by to check on projects and to check in on me.”

Middleton was not just a dedicated educator and citizen, she was also a loyal and compassionate friend.

“We were in elementary school together, we were in the same grade and the same class,” lifelong friend Angela Hicks said. “We went to different (colleges) but we would see each other and remained friends…She always had a kind smile.”

From the students she taught, to the first Harpersville community clean up campaign, to the first Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church directory, Middleton’s influence can be seen throughout the Harpersville community.

“She was totally selfless in everything,” Barnes said. “She was one-in-a-million, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person.”