Leva Lee Jones was delivered by her grandmother, Hattie Jones on August 16, 1932. She was the second daughter born to Noble and Maggie Eason Jones, her sister Eddie Vee was stillborn. She was named two days later by her uncle Ridley. She was raised in Gum Springs which at that time was heavily populated. Her father made a meager living by working for the dairy delivering milk, and cutting hair on Saturdays for ten cents.
She was educated in a two-room building in Gum Springs by Mrs. Savannah Helm from the first grade until the eighth grade. It was when she was in the fourth grade that she began piano lessons with Mrs. Helm. She progressed well enough to play hymns for Sunday School and advanced to play for the choir at St. Ruth Baptist Church. Graduation was always held at St. Ruth Baptist Church and she received a Certificate of Graduation for the Eighth Grade.
The following September she entered Peake High School as a Freshman. Being musically inclined and her love for music led her to try out for choir and she made it. She was a member of the Glee Club which was broadcast from the local radio station. She was no doubt a jewel of Peake High School at that time. She tried out for cheerleading and made that too, in both her junior and senior years. Her senior year was a fascinating time especially when she was afforded the privilege of writing the senior class song in the tune of “Brahms Lula-bye”.
Leva attended A.M. & N. College, now UAPB, and graduated in May of 1964. She started teaching that summer in a small farming town in northeast Arkansas. The following summer she began teaching at T. W. Daniel High School on Crossett. She later attended the University of Denver in Denver Colorado for one summer. Her years in Crossett were fun and that’s where she met the man who would one day become her husband, Joe Middleton. He was a tall, educated, and handsome teacher who taught in Menifee, Arkansas.
They dated for quite a while before he asked, Leva, as well as her parents, for her hand in marriage. They married in the spring on April 15, 1966, and it was a beautiful day. The icing on the cake was that she had also been hired as a teacher at her beloved Peake, which was then Peake Elementary School. Near the end of her first term at Peake, she found out that she was expecting! Right away Joe secured a loan to get them a home. Neither of them had saved any money, but God blessed them with a new home being built and a growing bouncy baby boy before birth. Although their first house note bounced, they persevered with God, love, and laughter. Leva and Joe were married for 50 years until his passing on August 28, 2016.
Leva was a lifelong and faithful member of St. Ruth Baptist Church where she served as secretary and treasurer. She loved attending church and spending time with her extended church family. Her warm spirit and sweet personality made her a wonderful member of the Sunshine Service Club.
On Thursday, November 16, 2023, the beautiful life of Leva Lee Middleton came to a close on Thursday, November 16, 2023, she was 91.
Although Leva is no longer with us in body, and her irreplaceable presence will be deeply missed, her memory will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who were impacted by the amazing life she lived. She leaves two handsome sons, Rodney Middleton of Dallas, TX, and Joel (Linda) Middleton of Park Forrest, IL, and; two sisters-in-law, Eunice (Raymond) Callis of San Antonio, TX, and Varrie Nicholson of East St. Louis, IL; and one brother-in-law, Elder Charles Booker. He also leaves an abundance of nieces, nephews, other relatives, former students, numerous friends, and the St. Ruth Baptist Church family.
Excerpts from her autobiography were used to write her biography.
A celebration of her life will be shared at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 25, 2023, at Greater Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where Dr. Lewis A. Shepherd, Jr., is the pastor. Rev. Jamal Brown the pastor of St. Ruth Baptist Church will deliver the eulogy. The interment will be at Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Public Visitation will be held from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Friday, November 24, 2023 at Williams Funeral Home.