“Headline: Brownwood native turns into icicle?”
That’s what Brownwood native Andrea Middleton texted from her new home in Madison, Wis. to a Bulletin reporter in response to a request for an interview.
If you have any contact with 29-year-old Andrea or her 27-year-old brother, Frank, you’ll learn a few things fast, such as: they are friendly and open, they joke and laugh easily — and while they good-naturedly rib each other, they are loyal to each other and to their parents, Walter and Martha Middleton.
“Wonderful, supportive family,” Andrea said.
“I was fortunate to have my mom and dad,” Frank said, citing “loving relationships with friends, family and fiance.”
Andrea, who studied biomedical engineering at the University of Texas, recently moved to Madison and went to work for Epic Systems Corp., a health care software company. Frank, who majored in math at Baylor University, lives in Brownwood and works at Superior Essex as a manufacturing engineer.
Frank and his fiance, Jessica Switzer, a Brownwood native who teaches theatre arts at Santa Anna High School, will be married later this year.
“Watch out for my sister … ” Frank warned in an email.
The two siblings are close, said their dad, who is the finance director for the City of Brownwood. “They love each other very much,” he said of his son and daughter.
The elder Middleton said he’s “absolutely” proud of the two, describing them both as “super smart.”
One’s conservative and one is liberal, Walter Middleton said. Both will “do anything for you” — Andrea because she’s altruistic, Frank because “it’s the right thing to do.”
Walter Middleton explained the family’s Brownwood connection:
“Martha and I met at East Texas Baptist College in Marshall as freshmen in 1974,” Middleton said via email. “We had our first date in early April 1975, our first kiss on April 11, 1975 and I gave her a promise ring on April 11, 1976.
“We transferred to HPU for the fall semester 1976 as juniors. I wanted to study accounting and Martha wanted to study psychology. ETBC had neither discipline and HPU did. We wanted to stay at a small Baptist college. Our choices were HPU and Dallas Baptist. Neither of us wanted a big city (I was from Houston and Martha from San Antonio) as we chose Brownwood.
“We married on Aug. 12, 1978 and graduated from HPU in May 1979. We had fallen in love with Brownwood and decided to make it our home and raise our kids here. Worked out pretty good, I think!”
Andrea graduated from Brownwood High School in 2002 and initially attended Rice University, where she studied biology. Her interest in biology started with a love of animals.
She took a break from college, and then enrolled at the University of Texas to study biomedicine. She’s enjoying Madison and its “very beautiful” snowy landscape, and she isn’t complaining about the cold. She described some recent winter days in which the thermometer had reached 8 degrees one day and nine-below-zero on another couple of days.
“It just feels very friendly,” Andrea said. She described herself as “more of the explorer. I like experiencing things that are different.”
That might explain her previous adventures in skydiving. She hasn’t tried that yet in Wisconsin — too cold.
Frank graduated from Brownwood High School in 2005, and when he enrolled in college, math was already his favorite subject. Frank said he can blame his dad — “he’s a bean counter” — for his interest in math. Frank minored in statistics and had once planned to become an financial actuary.
But working as an actuary would mean leaving Brownwood, Frank said, and he wanted to stay in Brownwood to be close to his family. He worked at The Home Depot, where he met the woman who became his fiance, and was offered a job at Superior Essex.
Growing up in his parents’ home, Frank developed good reflexes because his dad “would hide in the house and jump out and scare” the two siblings, Frank said.
“I just thank God my mom was there and I take after her,” Frank joked.
Walter Middleton credited his wife for his children’s successes. “I married well,” Middleton said.