Henry M. Middleton, Jr. Born: Warsaw, NC November 12, 1914 Died:
Years of Service: NC State University 1954-1979
Galax Knitting Co. July 1937- January 1938 Assistant to the Vice President; January 1938-January 1939 Head of Finishing Department; January 1939 – September 1945 Assistant plant superintendent
Elliot Knitting Mills, Hickory, NC September 1945 – August 1947 General superintendent
United Hosiery Mills, Chattanooga, TN August 1947- May 1953 Organized new subsidiary companies; organize new technical research department
Southern Hosiery Mills, Inc., Cleveland, TN September 1953- 1954 Developed dyeing and finishing department,
NC State College 1954-1979 School of Textiles Knitting: Assistant Professor of Textile Technology; Associate Professor.
Henry M. Middleton, Jr. was born November 12, 1914 in Warsaw, NC to Henry M. Middleton, Sr. and Katie V. Middleton. After graduating from Warsaw High School in 1933, he matriculated at N.C. State College where he graduated in 1937 with a B.S. degree in Textile Manufacturing. He began employment with Galax Knitting Company, Galax, Virginia. There he worked as assistant to the Vice President and General Manager for a six month training program while studying all phases of the seamless knitting process. After six months, he was promoted and given responsibility for the finishing department of the mill. After just one year, he was promoted again and made assistant plant manager. He supervised quality and production control; and instructed the departments as new additions were made to the plant. He also participated in remodeling, pattern designing and planning new construction.
In September 1945, Henry left Galax and joined Elliot Knitting Mills, Hickory, NC as general superintendent. He supervised over 600 employees. His other duties included purchasing and production control costs. After two years, in August 1947 he moved to United Hosiery Mills, Chattanooga, TN. There he organized and managed three subsidiary companies. In February 1953, he transferred to the home office and organized a new technical research department.
Henry joined Southern Hosiery Mills, Inc., Cleveland, TN in September 1953 where he developed a dyeing and finishing department. This was a small plant where he was a jack-of-all-trades in production, which included dyeing, finishing designing and sales.
Coming to NC State
He was recruited by Dean Malcolm Campbell to join Professor Ed Shinn as an Assistant Professor of Textiles in the Knitting Technology Department. He replaced George W. Fox who left the school to join Burlington Industries. His first assignment was to teach elementary and intermediate courses in hosiery manufacture. Henry remained in this position through 1979 and rose to become professor in charge of knitting technology after the retirement of Professor Shinn in 1969.
Henry was a very low-key teacher in that he always taught material as if he was your friend rather than a teacher. His lectures were always low key and his method of teaching consisted of addressing the real basics of the material and not the volume (total scope) of the material at hand. Instead of totally talking about the material he emphasized only the basic principles. He would often take a fair amount of time and write the basic principles on the blackboard or transparency and he especially liked to take the time (and a fair amount of time) to draw the graphical representation of various knitted structures (he liked to draw what the fabric actually looked like and this took a lot of class time). It seemed to me that it was important to him that we could visualize what various structures looked like and this was reinforced by the numerous rope models (boards showing knitted structures) that were displayed around the knitting lab and still are in the knitting lab. (4)
His lab technician Al Johnson was always very helpful in keeping the machines in shape but Henry did all the explaining about the machines and fabrics being produced in his own low key way which always consisted of him pointing to some aspect of the machine or fabric to explain its’ operation, function or characteristic and saying “now lookah here” (pronounced “now lookah huh-eeer”). He taught both weft knitting (circular and open width i.e., flat) and warp knitting (tricot and raschel) with most of his emphasis on weft knitting. In weft knitting he taught about single jersey machines, rib machines and also hosiery machines. In terms of hosiery machines he liked to talk about work that been done on hosiery machines (by Ed Shinn who was a previous knitting teacher – to produce compressed stockings) (which is one component of the work now being taught by Martin King in the department now). His exams were very straightforward and students found material taught to be very straightforward, not overly complicated and easy to understand. (4)
Middleton retired in 1979 after 25 years of service when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65.
Middleton was married and had two children.
- Henry M. Middleton, Jr., Data Sheet, 1954, NCSU Archives.
- “Teaching State”, Henry M. Middleton, Jr. article and photo, Wallace (NC) News, September 20, 1954. NCSU Archives.
- “New Textile Professor at N. C. State,” North Carolina State College News Release, sent to Raleigh News & Observer; Mrs. Gordon Kornegay, Wallace N.C.; The Knitter, Charlotte, N.C.; Hosiery and Underwear Review, New York; Hosiery Industry Weekly, New York. NCSU Archives
- Gary Smith, personal communication, May 2017.