Celebrating the Life of an Old Cowboy

He was just an old cowboy who loved God, family, country, the land, and a simple way of life. He seldom strayed far from his beloved "Trails End" ranch north of Decatur near Greenwood. This was his Heaven on Earth. He was happy in God's great outdoors working from sun up to sundown, many times in the headlights of the pickup. He enjoyed riding off with his favorite .22 pistol on his hip, taking the four-wheeler to check on the cows, with his trusty sidekick, his dog Roxy, running out in front. Roxy would look back at him frequently in anticipation of what direction they would be going next. When Roxy got tired, the old cowboy would invite her to share the four-wheeler with him; she would jump on behind him and they would continue. They might switch from the four-wheeler to "Jimmy", the old blue 96 GMC pickup, but they would be together all day. Roxy's first puppy was born in the back of that old pickup one day when they were checking on the cows. She had hardly slowed for the event.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, Garland Ray Middleton passed from this life. We all miss him dearly, including Roxy. Services were held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, at the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

Garland was born to Raymond and Anita Middleton at Indian Creek, Texas on Jan. 23, 1940. He grew up in the Early-Brownwood area and graduated from Early High. Garland was married to Adera Francene Pentecost on May 12, 1972. He has five children, Debi Leaks and husband Randy of Abernathy, Derick Middleton of Brownwood, Dawna Middleton of Springfield, Mo., Drue Middleton of Denton, and Dustin Middleton of Decatur. He has five grandchildren, Chelsea Kaster and husband Jay, and Chase Hogue of Springfield, Mo., Clayton Pettiet of Lubbock, Taylor Lack-Middleton of Early, and Christopher Middleton of Justin; one great-grandchild, William Kaster of Springfield, Mo. He is survived by his mother, Anita Middleton; sister, Margie Richards; and brother, Larry Middleton, all of Brownwood. He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond Middleton.

During the service, neighbor John Boswell talked about a day when Garland called him to come meet him at the top of the hill in front of the house and for him to hurry. John found Garland there with damp eyes. He asked John to look over the land and see what he saw, cows grazing the green grass on the hillside at sunset. Garland said that he was blessed; God had been good to him. They both sat and enjoyed "God's picture" for a few moments.

Songs played were: "Cowboy Church" by Red Stegall, "Daddy's Hands" by Holly Dunn, "I Sure Miss You" by Jason Crabb, "I Want to Stroll Over Heaven With You" by Alan Jackson, and "Amazing Grace" sung acapella by friend Sue Maxwell. During the song "I Sure Miss You" a slideshow of pictures of Garland was shown. Frank Maxwell read verse John 14:27. Pastor Ken May read a group of memories written by Garland's family. One of the memories was a poem written by son Drue.

As I sit on the hill

Thinking and such

I look at the land

That he loved so much

And try and find the words

That I would like to say

And then I soon realize

There is just no way

It hurts too much

I can't seem to think

All I have is my feelings

I can't even blink

So I'll just say this

And I'll be on my way

I love you, Dad?In my heart you'll stay