From another group, but I know there are other fans of his work here!
By Kevin P. Keefe
Published: July 11, 2011
LIVONIA, N.Y. - William D. Middleton, 83, an author and photographer
who enlightened and entertained nearly three generations of TRAINS
readers, died late yesterday. He had been living in recent months near
his son, Bill.
A railroad journalist of wide-ranging interests and expertise,
Middleton earned more than 80 bylines in TRAINS since his first
article in the October 1957 issue. He also served for many years as a
contributing editor to the industry trade magazine Railway Age.
As a photographer, Middleton's credit line appeared with countless
photos in TRAINS, and his images appeared on the cover 20 times. His
work as a photographer was profiled in the Spring 2011 issue of
Middleton also had few peers in the railroad book field. He wrote or
co-wrote 23 volumes, many of them standards in the field. Middleton
played a leading role in the creation of the "Encyclopedia of North
American Railroads," the landmark one-volume reference published in
2004 by Indiana University Press.
Born in Davenport, Iowa, on March 25, 1928, Bill Middleton became
immersed in railroading at an early age. His father, William, was a
physician for the National Indian Service. His grandfather, also
William, was born in Scotland and was the first chief physician for
the Rock Island Railroad.
At age 10, young Bill took his first photograph of a train, using a
Brownie box camera to frame a Great Northern train on a small bridge
near his home in Wolf Point, Mont.
A civil engineer by profession, Middleton graduated from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute in 1950. At RPI, he became friends with a young
Jim Shaughnessy, a photographer with equally big accomplishments in
Middleton went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, then
embarked on a distinguished 30-year U.S. Navy career that included
service in Korea, Japan, Turkey, and Morocco. After the Navy, he
continued his engineering career, capping it off with a 13-year tenure
as chief facilities officer at the University of Virginia in
Charlottesville, from which he retired in 1993.
All the while, Middleton remained remarkably prodigious as an author.
His many articles in TRAINS reflected his restless curiosity: electric
traction, of course (his specialty), but also steam locomotives,
railroad engineering, international passenger trains, and operations.
Of his many books, the three volumes in his memorable "traction
trilogy" are classics of the genre: "The Interurban Era" (1961), "The
Time of the Trolley" (1967), and "When the Steam Railroads
Electrified" (1974),all originally for Kalmbach Books. He also wrote
definitive books on two of Chicago's Insull interurbans, "South Shore:
America's Last Interurban" (1970) and "North Shore: America's Fastest
Interurban" (1968), published originally by Golden West Books.
Recent titles have included a delightful personal memoir, "Yet There
Isn't a Train I Wouldn't Take," (2000, Indiana University Press), and,
with his son Bill (William D. Middleton III), a biography of one of
his heroes, "Frank Julian Sprague: Electrical Inventor and Engineer"
(2009, IU Press). He tied railroading directly to his profession in
"Landmarks on the Iron Road" (1999, IU Press) and "The Bridge at
Quebec" (2001, IU Press).
Middleton was a quiet force in railroad publishing. Soft-spoken and
collegial, he displayed the sort of leadership that certainly came in
part from a Navy career. On the "Encyclopedia" project for IU Press,
he (along with co-leaders George Smerk and Roberta L. Diehl) kept an
18-member editorial board in line, coaxing the unwieldy volunteer
staff into producing a sprawling, indispensable reference.
He also made many friends through his photography, among them Stan
Kistler and Fred Schneider III, who collaborated with Middleton for
nearly 40 years by doing the darkroom work on Bill's expertly composed
Middleton's wife of 53 years, Dorothy, herself an accomplished teacher
and museum docent, died in 2009. He is survived by his two sons, Nick,
in Seattle, and Bill, in Livonia.
Posted by Bill Heger