Jim Frank Singletary
October 2, 1927 - June 23, 2020
On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Jim Frank Singletary (Buddy) at the age of 92 was called home by our Heavenly Father.
Buddy was born on October 2, 1927, in Laneville, TX. He was the third of four children born to Frank Leroy and Minnie Jones Singletary and attended Laneville Elementary where his father taught school and was the principal. While in elementary school, the family transferred to Carlisle (Price) where Buddy participated in Carlisle schools’ theater, publications, and workshop, and played tennis, football, and basketball.
After high school graduation, his family moved to Troup, TX. where he attended Kilgore Jr. College and drove the KJC school bus. Between two semesters, he decided to join the U.S. Marines on August 28, 1945. Once completing boot camp in Parris Island, SC, he headed for Tientsin, China on the USS Wakefield, passing through the Panama Canal and decimated Pearl Harbor. While at sea, World War II ended, and Buddy was honorably discharged on October 11, 1947, after spending eight months in occupied China.
Once discharged, he went to work for his brother-in-law, Dale Ramsey, at GI Surplus in downtown Houston, TX. He soon met a beautiful Polish girl, Viola Doris Sechelski, who also worked downtown. Within a year, they married in Richmond, TX, Fort Bend County on June 1, 1949, and started a family. Buddy and Viola were blessed with three children, Jim Frank Jr., Charles Andrew, and Jan Ardath. During this time, he was hired by the U.S. Post Office downtown Houston, where he started driving large mail delivery trucks, then walking a downtown route. Early family memories were made camping at Stewart Beach on Galveston Island, beach house vacations in Gilchrist on Bolivar Island, visits to the Sechelski ranch in Navasota, work and play at the Singletary farm in Laneville, little league ball games, bowling and drive-in theaters in southeast Houston.
Buddy had many life experiences that he loved to talk about, but his favorites seemed to be his time spent in the Marines on the ship going through the Panama Canal, crossing the International Date Line, and in occupied China. Other favorites include being given a $20 tip from George HW Bush while on his downtown walking route and being picked up as a child by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows. Yes, if you were lucky enough to hear that story, you realized that as the years went by, it was less about his terrified, older friend Walter crying, and more about younger Buddy doing the crying!
In August 1964, Buddy moved his family to Troup, TX where he worked two jobs as a rural route mail carrier for the Troup Post Office and an afternoon newspaper carrier for the Tyler Courier Times. He clocked many a mile in and around Troup, Texas. It wasn’t unusual for him to have >300,000 miles on the odometer of his current route vehicle! He retired from the U.S. Post Office in 1985 after a 32 ½ year career.
In retirement, Buddy played a little golf and tennis (being excellent at both), made several road trips with grandkids and did whatever Viola told him to do - such as planting the front yard with bluebonnets and relocating a large white rock from the Sechelski ranch to the front door in Troup (because Viola played on it as a child...and she wanted it). He spent time ensuring his yard, vehicles, and tools/equipment were immaculate and in their place. He loved listening to Big Band, Sinatra, and country music on his elaborate stereo and speaker system. He and Viola played Bridge and dominoes with family and friends and he was an avid reader of wonders of the world, astrology, and religion. He researched the Apocalypse and worried about us all...where we would be and what we would be doing on certain dates that he had calculated to be the Rapture.
Buddy was known for his Southern Engineering abilities. He designed, drew plans for and constructed some unusual projects - a stile to walk over the backyard fence, a rail system to “launch” his boat from his lake lot storage building directly into the lake, a car seat with lever mechanisms to quickly slide from driver to passenger side for mail and newspaper delivery, a very large wind vane from scrap pipe and metal and other eclectic creations. He built an A-frame cabin complete with an outhouse and outdoor shower at the Laneville farm. He could build anything out of wood whether it be a storage building, ping pong table, new fence, outdoor playset, carport, pier, deck, or whatever was needed or wanted. He could come up with the cleverest of ideas on how to solve problems with wood and materials on hand and was always willing to help his parents and his children. He would tackle anything and have fun doing it.
Till the end, Buddy loved going to the Laneville farm where he once grew and harvested hay and raised cattle. It could be said that he loved most animals, and his Troup home housed horses, a calf, a parakeet, dogs, and stray cats...all of whom were spoiled by Buddy. He would take the grandkids for an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen and take a cone back home to his dog. In fact, a portion of his every meal went outside to his current dog. Needless to say, his animals loved him, and he loved them.
In the sunset of his life, Buddy worked jigsaw puzzles and crosswords, let Viola beat him at dominos, and drove her around the countryside in his daily rinsed off the truck. He never tired of being outside and was happiest playing dominoes on a beach, working in his yard, or driving down a road.
Yes, Buddy was a most unusual character, but he was frugal, smart, reliable, disciplined, supportive, funny, interesting, curious, and strong – strong both physically and in will. No question about it, his greatest strength was his love for Viola, wife of 70 years, 1 month. He was a most “attentive” and devoted husband - bringing her coffee in bed each morning, keeping her vehicle clean and gassed up, and helping with cooking and housework.
He will be missed, but we will certainly think about him every time we turn on and off our lights or fans, when at the beach, during bluebonnet season and when listening to Big Band or Patsy Cline music!
Buddy is predeceased by wife Viola Doris Sechelski Singletary, sisters Roslyn Ramsey, and Ardath Grimes. He is survived by a younger sister, Marilyn Lanier; children (and their spouses) Jim Frank Singletary Jr. (Jan), Charles Andrew Singletary (Paula) and Jan Ardath Martin (Steve); eight grandchildren (and their spouses) Jennifer Renea Jennings (Russell), Jon Anthony Singletary (Leslie), Andrea Jean Nossaman (Greg), Rebekah Charity McGrady (Andy), Aaron David Singletary, Josiah Andrew Singletary (Cynthia), Damon Ray Knight (Michelle) and Kristofer Stephen Martin (Aja); eight great-grandchildren Finley Grace Jennings, Nash Grady Jennings, Avery Elizabeth Singletary, Abigail Ceora Nossaman, Jacob Lawrence Nossaman, Charlotte Naima Nossaman, Lara Jade McGrady and Brooklyn Rae Knight.
Buddy’s family is profoundly grateful to Prestige Estates Memory Care and Traditions Hospice staff who lovingly cared for and celebrated his uniqueness. In addition, the family appreciates the professional sitters, loving friends, family, and neighbors who provided extraordinary love, care, and support.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church of Troup, Traditions Hospice of Tyler, or the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County.
A private graveside service for family will be held in Troup, TX.
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