Thank goodness for Shirley Singleton. Thank goodness for Shirley Singleton, who set standards high for Waxahachie.
That’s what friends and community members said of a woman who has been called one of the great matriarchs of the city. Singleton died April 23, and had a long life of impacting Waxahachie daily, friends said.
“She was probably very instrumental in a lot of what citizens did in the community,” said Bonney Ramsey, a friend of Singleton’s for 37 years. “She worked tirelessly to make sure Waxahachie was the best place to live. She was a giver. She was worker. She was a very smart lady. She was a role model for any woman who wants to be in the business world. It’s so unfair that she had to get so sick, and it’s sad to see.”
Ramsey met Singleton in 1980, when she joined Gardeners Limited, a local gardening club where Singleton had been a member since 1969, Ramsey said. Yet, Singleton was involved with so much more than Gardeners Limited, Ramsey and family said.
Singleton moved to Waxahachie in 1963 and was a founding member of Marvin Elementary School Parent Teachers Association, a founding member of the Pink Ladies at W.C. Terney Community Hospital in Waxahachie and was an active member and past president of Gardeners Limited, according to her obituary.
“I was just privileged to be able to work with her, admired her and respected her,” said Beverly Worthington, one of Singleton’s friends. “She had such a beautiful smile. She was very involved and it was always interesting to be with her and around her. She was always fascinating. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to get to know Ms. Shirley and the whole Singleton family.”
She was also part of the Friday Book Club in Waxahachie and was a past owner and Vice-President of Western Data Services, Inc., a data processing company for counties, appraisal districts, cities and schools in appraisals, taxation and voter registration. She and her husband, George, sold the company after 20 years, and after a short retirement, she went to work for Citizens National Bank of Texas as Vice President and became a member of the Board of Directors.
One of Singleton’s most active memberships was her role with the Crape Myrtle Council, Ramsey said. Singleton was instrumental in getting Waxahachie named the Crape Myrtle capitol of Texas, Ramsey said. The Singletons had a farm where the family grew Crape Myrtles, Ramsey said.
“In 1997 was when we were named the Crape Myrtle capitol of Texas,” Ramsey said. “And we encouraged the planting of Crape Myrtle trees all over the city and so many of them came from their farm.”
Singleton was crowned the Crape Myrtle Queen in 2003, and the next year crowned Ramsey, Ramsey said. That’s when the two began the closest part of their friendship, she said. Every time a queen is crowned at the annual Crape Myrtle Festival, the former queen hands off the crown and reads a poem she wrote about the new queen, Ramsey said.
“I’ll just never forget that moment,’ she said. “I never got a copy about it and I wish I had.”
Singleton worked on the Crape Myrtle Festival for years up until the last two or three years when her health started to fail, Ramsey said.
“The thing about Shirley Singleton was if she started a project, she saw it through to the end and made sure it was the very best,” Ramsey said. “The thing I loved about working with Shirley, is she always knew exactly how she wanted something done. She was always very specific about what she wanted done and I always appreciated that in her.”
The community has lost a great woman, Ramsey said.
“I put Shirley Singleton in the category as matriarch of our city as I would Betty Getzendaner (an active community member and supporter of local charities, who died in 2012) , Neil Blakenbeckler (an active community member who died in 2005) and Hilda Chapman (an active community member focused on bringing people together, who died in February). They were just outstanding women in the community.”