Hamilton honors prominent business owner ahead of Juneteenth recognition

Arthur Singletary was honored by Hamilton this week for his help of other people during his career.  Contributed
Caption
Arthur Singletary was honored by Hamilton this week for his help of other people during his career. Contributed

As Hamilton officials honored Arthur Singletary on Thursday for his service to others throughout his career, he told those gathered he never expected such an honor.

As the calendar approaches the Juneteenth holiday, which Hamilton last year proclaimed to be a city holiday from then on, Mayor Pat Moeller and other officials presented Singletary, 74, who is a Black man, a proclamation thanking him for his service to others as he operated a variety of businesses throughout his work life.

His son, Arthur Singletary II, said he announced during the ceremony, “All I was doing was doing what I knew was right, and never expected people to be watching me and want to recognize me.”

Juneteenth, which happens on June 19, is when freed slaves had a spontaneous celebration about 2½ years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the country. Although Lincoln signed the proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that freedom happened for all in Texas, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and read General Order No. 3, announcing the end of the Civil War and slavery.

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The proclamation notes that Singletary began his career by buying residential and commercial real estate.

“Since 1969, Arthur Singletary has established himself as a successful businessman by purchasing and renting 35 homes, providing affordable housing to various neighborhoods in the Hamilton and Fairfield communities,” the proclamation states.

It notes that in 1980, when there was concern about a local carryout store closing, he bought the building and saved the business, which became known as Singletary’s Carryout. The establishment “stood as a vital small business in Hamilton’s Second Ward neighborhood.”

And as a licensed bail bondsman, “he was seen as a trusted individual in his community, allowing those who needed his services to come to him in a time of despair.”

Also, “To this day, people still seek personal and professional advice from Mr. Singletary due to his long- standing reputation as an honest, hardworking business and community leader.”

The proclamation salutes him “for the example he has led in his community as an African American community leader, businessman, father, father in-law, grandfather, and great grandfather and we wish him the best in his continued endeavors.”

Moeller on Friday said: “I appreciate Mr. Singletary providing affordable housing for Hamilton residents. He helped small businesses. He and his wife raised an impressive family in Hamilton. He told me yesterday that ‘the work is not finished.’ That statement is motivation for all of us.”

His son was thankful to see his father honored, especially because of the historical location that was chosen for Wednesday’s ceremony: the elegant former Hamilton municipal building at 20 High St. The son, a 1986 Edgewood High School graduate now living in San Diego, flew into town to attend the event.

“It’s magical,” he said. “I’ve never seen anybody recognized as an African-American.”

Mayor Pat Moeller (left) honored Arthur Singletary with a proclamation, thanking him for helping the people of Hamilton during struggling times. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Mayor Pat Moeller (left) honored Arthur Singletary with a proclamation, thanking him for helping the people of Hamilton during struggling times. CONTRIBUTED

“I believe young African-American men and women should see that if you do all the right things in life, you will be recognized, or people will take note,” he added. “Young people need to see an example of, ‘Hey, hard work does pay off.’”

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The elder Singletary has lived in Fairfield since 2007, and continues helping others.

“There’s times when he’s had tenants who couldn’t pay their rent, and he let them stay for nine months to a year for free,” Singletary II said. “He’s done that.”

One tenant now has been unable to pay for nine months, he said.

“He’s done it throughout his lifetime,” his son said. “He says, ‘People have helped me get to where I’ve got to.’ He loves helping other people. He understands the power of giving. He’s been blessed, my mom (Lillie Bell Singletary) has been blessed, he says, so they want to give it back.”