In Loving Memory
Merrilee Ruth Middleton, PsyD
July 12, 1932 - June 5, 2019
errilee Ruth Middleton, 86, was born July 12, 1932 in Hazelhurst, Georgia to Ruth Bussell Montmeny (deceased) and Harmon Campbell Middleton (deceased). She is survived by niece Meredith Myrle Beck and family of Dublin, Georgia and extended family of friend Agnes Duffy Rachel (deceased) and family in Massillon, Ohio, Tucson, Arizona, and Rita Thrasher of Boca Raton.
Dr. Middleton is recognized by many as the Matriarch of Mental Health Education in Palm Beach County whose passion and dedications sparked and encouraged community conversations that impact the lives of families, educators, professionals, clergy, youth, workforce and community leaders. She has been recognized with Achievement Awards from the Florida Institute of Suicide Prevention, Soroptomist International of Boca Raton/Deerfield Beach, and the Palm Beach State College, Boca Raton.
Her journey to become a matriarch began at the early age of five. That is when Merrilee was welcomed as the youngest weekly volunteer by listening to others at the Seniors’ Sunday School Class at the First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald, Georgia where she graduated high school in 1949. She earned a BS in Business Education from Stetson University in Deland, Florida where she and Professor Elizabeth Faulk assisted Dr. George Hood in establishing Stetson’s first counseling center. Her skill for listening compassionately followed her as a guidance counselor at Fairfax High School in Virginia where she was encouraged to seek advanced studies.
She continued in academia earning an MA from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee where she was invited to membership in Peabody’s Business Honor Society which led to an internship at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. where she completed requirements to be listed in the National Registry for Group Psychology as a Certified Group Psychologist.
After moving to Boca Raton, Florida Merrilee worked as a counselor at Boca High School before serving as Program Specialist in Secondary Education for the School District of Palm Beach County. In 1968, she and Dr. Faulk combined talents in establishing community counseling services and trainings for hundreds of persons in Palm Beach and Broward Counties while she earned an EDS from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. Together they created the Center for Group Counseling and presented it at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas. The Center’s therapeutic gardens and Hampton Court became a reality with help from Dorothy Schmidt and family. Dr. Middleton served as clinical and training director at the Center while earning a Psy D from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In l997 she was invited by Governor, Lawton Chiles, to be one of five State delegates to organize “Communities of Promise” in Florida and attend the Presidential Summit for America’s Youth in Philadelphia. With support from U.S. General Colin Powell and community leaders she founded Boca Raton’s Promise- The Alliance For Youth in l998. Several years later she helped found the Association for Community Counseling in Delray Beach while serving as President of Boca Raton’s Promise until she turned leadership over to Program Coordinator Rita Thrasher.