William G. Middlestate, Sr., age 75, passed away Thursday morning, January 14, 2021 with his wife, Margaret and daughter, Trena beside him under comfort care at Lewis County General Hospital.
William (Bill) Gene Middlestate was born on January 17, 1945 in a farm house on Pillar Point on the Middle Road in the town of Brownville, NY, the third son of five to the late Ernest W. and Bernice I. Carter Middlestate.
Bill attended Dexter Elementary School and the Carthage Central High School until he enlisted in the United States Army on January 18, 1962 at the age of 17. He was stationed in Göppingen, Germany as a SP4 Co. A 144th Signal Battalion as a Radio Relay and Carrier Operator. He earned his rank as of E-4, he was discharged on January 7, 1965 and honorably discharged on December 31, 1967. He received the Good Conduct Medal and the Sharpshooter Rifle M-14 Medal. Bill and his two buddies, when on leave, toured Paris, Holland, and the countryside of Germany.
Bill always held a special place in his heart for his buddy, a good friend, and a good man SGT Ronald Glen Soule. By 2004, after thirty-nine years, Bill was told by the retired drill sergeant that Ronnie had been killed in Vietnam on April 13, 1966, two months before his 29th birthday. In June 2007, Bill visited the moving wall in Clayton, NY.
From August 17, 1978 until his honorable discharge on August 16, 1985 at the rank of E-5, Bill served in the NY Army National Guard with the 127th, 134th, and 145th Maintenance Co. In December 1978, the 127th went to Germany for two weeks before Christmas. During the April 1979 NY State Prison Guards Strike, the unit was activated to Comstock Prison to guard the prisoners, he received the Meritorious Award.
In the summer of 1967, Bill drove a dump truck for Vespa Sand and Gravel in Watertown, NY. In November of 1967 and 1968 he was a steelworker at the former Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. at Benson Mines in Star Lake, NY. In January of 1969 he was a miner at the former Trout Lake site of the Edwards Mines and in late April 1969, he was employed for twenty-two years by the New York Air Brake Company. He was a foundryman in Department 43 for seventeen years with two back-to-back several month-long layoffs between 1981 until May of 1984. In 1986, Bill was voted in as the correspondent representative of the GMP Local 78B for five years before his April 1991 disability retirement due to Parkinson’s Disease, the rigid form paralysis agitans by age 40. Bill was always a strong hard worker; he could lift over 100lb cast iron railroad car brakes to place up on the grinding wheel. He was a proud Democrat and believed in the labor unions. The foundry closed in 1992-1993.
He was a past member of the American Legion Post in Watertown, NY and Gouverneur, NY, a member in the 80’s of the Moose Horn hunting club and a Trackside regular in Harrisville. He liked to have more than a few beers with his co-workers, family and friends. He listened to the Eagles, Elvis and all the country greats, told jokes, he would hunt, fish, play cards, read military books and novels, do the daily crossword puzzles, mowed the lawn, planted vegetable gardens and sunflower seeds, refinished furniture, watch the Price Is Right, the History channel, war movies, the VHS Civil War tapes, a true NY Yankee and NY Giants fan. The five years (2012-2017) while at Carthage Area Hospital Skilled Nursing Unit he would draw pictures to sell or give them to his family. He was a champ at Bingo and gave his prize winnings to his family.
At the Lewis County Residential Healthcare Facility with a low voice, he sang Elvis songs and kept time with the music. His humor with his jokes cracked everyone up.
Bill earned his GED in February 1983 and on Friday June 28, 2019 after the senior class graduation of his youngest grandchild Ellen M. Leonard handed her grandfather his Harrisville Central School diploma. Bill received a standing ovation.
Since May 17, 2012, the family continuously visited him, brought him home for a day out, for holiday dinners, for his rides on the Veteran float in the Harrisville Fire Department Parade, until the last inside visit on March 1, 2020 and then with Skype.
On November 11, 2020, he tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered with a negative on December 12, 2020. He was given a t-shirt “I kicked COVID ass.” He had difficulty swallowing due to Parkinson’s and aspirated on water or food. He had pneumonia on December 18, 2020 and double pneumonia on January 9, 2021.
On Sunday, January 17, 2021, for his 76th birthday with family masked formed a circle in the driveway with music, blowing bubbles, prayers and releasing of balloons. Ellen baked a three-tier green, blue, purple, layer cake with a hand decorated sunflower on top. Bill would have loved his cake. Ellen has her grandpa’s t-shirt. It was eight days after his positive test she was positive and recovered from a mild case.
His long and courageous journey with every stage of Parkinson’s and heart disease he fought hard to not give up.
The family is very grateful and appreciates the dedicated doctors, the nurses, and the CNA’s in Bill’s remaining days. The same for his years of care given to him on the residential second floor, Carthage Area Hospital Skilled Nursing before the 2017 closing; and to the respiratory team on June 2, 2015 who saved Bill from his choking on pieces of meat. Thanks to everyone.
On July 1, 1967, Bill married Margaret L. Leary of South Edwards, NY at the First Methodist Church on Mullin St. in Watertown, NY, they moved from South Edwards to Harrisville in June of 1971.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Margaret; his three daughters, Trena L. Middlestate and her fiancé, Stanley Moore, of Pitcairn, Brenda J. Leonard and her companion, Randy Didas, of Harrisville, and Carrie L. and Eugene R. Hooley, of Pitcairn; a son, William G. “Billy” Middlestate Jr. and his companion, Julie N. Marier-Nicholas, of Leicester, NC; his four grandchildren, Crystal E. Mallette, of Potsdam, Rachel E. Leonard, of Utica, Austin E. Hooley, of Pitcairn, and Ellen M. Leonard, of Harrisville; his two former son-in-laws, Kevin Mallette, of Florida and Robby Leonard, of Harrisville; two brothers, Steven E. Middlestate, of Whitestone, NY and Randy K. Middlestate and his wife, Maria, of Adams, NY; two half-sisters, Cindy E. Middlestate of Watertown and Sandra J. Clement of Sackets Harbor; and several nieces, nephews. Bill is predeceased by his parents, two older brothers, John R. in 1980 (age 44), Robert J. in 1955 (age 15), his younger half-brother, Joseph M. Abbate in 1963 (age 5), and John’s oldest daughter, Lorie L. Middlestate in 2002 (age 44).
Bill wrote on November 5, 2006, “Ode to a Sunflower,” his poem was read by Mary Dryden of Scotland the sister-in-law of Donald J. Leary, Jr., for his memorial services in Davidsonville, Maryland on October 2, 2014.
Ode to a Sunflower
“I planted you when you were just a little seed and from the ground you did proceed.
You grew and grew the whole summer through.
You stood straight and tall; 15 feet in all.
I watered you and gave you miracle gro to help you stand stout and true.
Then after putting on a summer show you bowed your head, took a bow. It had been quite a show.
Now the fall is here, you stand bowed and humbled, but you are still tall and green to me.
Hang not your head in shame for the next year you'll rise again.
I promise to plant another seed so once more you'll be tall and green”
A graveside service will be held at the South Edwards Cemetery in the Spring.
Memorial donations in his memory can be made to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Disabled American Veterans.
Online condolences may be made at www.fraryfuneralhomes.com.