Mary Ann Frances (Watkins) Middleton, 69, of Peoria passed away at Richard L. Owens Hospice Center, Peoria, on May 31, 2014.
She was born on September 6, 1944, in Bloomington to Charles Kenton Watkins and Esther Marian Castle Watkins. She married Robert Keith Middleton on August 22, 1965, in Normal. They were married for 48 years.
Mary Ann is survived by her husband, two sons, Robert Kenton (Mekhala) Watkins Middleton of Chicago and Randolph Charles Castle Middleton of Kingston Mines, one granddaughter, Lyla Anne Middleton of Chicago, and one sister, Norma Esther Watkins Stein of Lynchburg, VA. She is preceded in death by her parents.
Mary Ann Middleton, known for her vivacious personality, fostered love of country in young and old alike as an educator, historic preservationist, and a life-long community volunteer. Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Illinois State University and a Master's Degree from Bradley University, Mary Ann continued doctoral coursework in the field of education. She taught in the public school system as a classroom teacher and remedial reading specialist. Her interest in education naturally led to participation in Junior American Citizens (JAC) activities. The Illinois State Organization, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, (NSDAR) presented her with the JAC Thatcher Award, recognizing her efforts. She loved teaching and taught for 14 years, most of which was at Oak Grove East in Bartonville, before staying home to raise her children.
Mary Ann's years of volunteer efforts with historic site preservation and restoration, urban forestry and design of Constitution Garden were recognized by the Illinois State Organization NSDAR, awarding her the NSDAR Conservation Medal.
In costume as Betsy Ross, Mary Ann presented interactive programs on the history of the Flag of the United States of America to classroom and community groups. For her patriotic endeavors the Illinois Society, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) presented her with the SAR Medal of Appreciation.
Mary Ann was a founding board member of Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, a member and docent of the Peoria Historical Society, and a board member of Peoria City Beautiful. However, of all her good works, Mary Ann was most deeply involved with the NSDAR in Illinois. She rose through the leadership ranks to the NSDAR, most recently serving a term as Vice President General -- one of only a handful of leaders running the organization nationally.
A funeral service for Mary Ann will be held on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at Salem Lutheran Church, 1700 West War Memorial Drive, Peoria, with visitation one hour prior to the service. Pastors David Hofer and Elise Rothfusz will officiate. Visitation will be held at Cumerford-Hurd Funeral Home, located at 428 West McClure Avenue in Peoria the evening before from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Memorials may be made in her name to Salem Lutheran Church Endowment Fund, NSDAR Scholarship Fund, or American Cancer Association.
Mary Ann's memorial website may be viewed at hurdfamilyfunerals.com
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM (CDT)
Cumerford-Hurd Funeral Home
428 W. McClure Ave
Peoria, IL 61604
11:00 AM (CDT)
Salem Lutheran Church
1700 West Memorial Drive
Peoria, IL 61614
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