Whenever there was a community need to be filled, Roy Singleton stepped up to the plate every time.
The former publisher of The Burlington Post, who died Sept. 14 at the age of 81, gave the newspaper’s backing to a host of community initiatives.
In 1975 Burlington was plagued with a shortage of ice time for hockey and figure skating. Some youth teams were looking to rent ice in other municipalities.
Singleton was one of three men who personally signed a guarantee for $200,000 to purchase a house, which would be raffled off to raise funds for a new arena. Gerry Park and Earl Blaney were the others.
Park said the City of Burlington asked the Burlington Figure Skating Club, the BLOMHA minor hockey group and Oldtimers Hockey Club, which were the three major ice users, to raise $700,000 combined as their share of the $4.7 million needed to build the twin-pad Mainway Arena.
“Without Roy, who represented the figure skating club, the minor hockey group and the oldtimers hockey, we would never had the backing to proceed,” Park said. “Through The Post, he was very instrumental in helping us with the publicity we needed.
“The City’s philosophy was to build a single-pad arena in every neighborhood,” Park said. “We finally convinced them that twin-pads break even financially and, if they are used for other events like home shows in the off-seasons, they can even make money.”
Singleton served as President of the Burlington Figure Skating Club and Chairman of the Ice Image Precision Skating teams for a number of years. For his service to the community, he was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in 1993.
It was during his presidency that a Burlington team won a Canadian championship for the first time. It laid the foundation for NEXXICE, which followed Ice Image, to win two World Championships.
Brenda Bradica and Shelly Barnett, both former head coaches of Burlington synchronized skating teams, had high praise for Singleton.
“Roy was incredibly proud that we were one of the first Canadian teams to compete abroad in Sweden and that we skated an exhibition in Chelmsford, England, on the way home,” Bradica said. “That’s where he was from, and he arranged it.”
Barnett said Singleton’s enthusiasm for synchronized skating was a huge factor in Burlington’s becoming a powerhouse in the sport.
“He raised the level of awareness and got the community behind it,” she said.
Aidan Finn, who founded The Post in 1965, said Singleton was the first employee he hired. He served as advertising manager until 1970 when he became publisher. The newspaper’s first office was downtown at the corner of Caroline and John Streets.
Animal Aid was one of his favorite charities.
“His loyalty was unquestioned,” Finn said. “And his heart and soul was into animal rescue.”
Competing against the long established Burlington Gazette, The Post grew rapidly with the help of advertising dollars from the brand new Burlington mall and a booming real estate market.
Finn first sold the newspaper to The Toronto Telegram, whose assets were purchased by Inland Publishing in 1971. It is now part of the Metroland chain.
The Post went from publishing once a week to twice, then three times. By 1986, the Gazette ceased publication.
Dave de Jong, who was editor of The Post from 1980 to 1992, said Singleton was a good salesman who understood the business people of Burlington and was able to serve the needs of advertisers.
“But you need good people on the editorial side too and without good editorial, you don’t have advertisers. Roy let his editorial people do pretty much what they were supposed to do. It’s partly a tribute to Roy’s leadership that The Post has lasted this long as the voice of Burlington.”
Graphic artist Robert Woodhouse worked in The Post’s composing room.
“Roy liked to be a leader and he was a kind leader,” Woodhouse said. “In fact, he didn’t know how to be anything but a leader. If I ever saw him in any role other that that, I would have been surprised.”
Singleton was born in Ormbersley, England, and came to Canada with his fiancé Christine Garratt in 1960 after serving in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. They were married here the same year.
Besides his wife, he is survived by daughters Sharon Singleton of Pembroke, and Michelle Wilson (Keith) of Burlington and four grandchildren, Jenna, Liam, Braden and Jeremy.
A memorial service is planned for a later date.
By DENIS GIBBONS