Dr. George G. Singleton – Singleton Hall
By Maurice B. Jones
George Goodwin Singleton (1900-1980), one of eleven children, completed his work at the elementary level, attending school in Barnesville, Georgia. Singleton decided to attend Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) Preparatory School although he had no admission credentials or diploma. Inspired and encouraged by a faculty member, he made an appointment with the principal who gave him an examination on the spot and admitted him on the basis of his performance.
In order to put himself through college, Singleton worked as a finisher in his father's Atlanta shoe shop, shoe shine boy in barber shops, worked in the tobacco fields, sang with a quartet, worked as a pullman porter and as a salesman for the Northwestern Life Insurance Co.
After graduation from Atlanta University, Singleton attended New York University, becoming one of the first five African-Americans to earn a Master of Business Administration degree in 1927. He pursued further study at New York University.
His first offer for employment came from Atlanta University in 1928 to serve as professor and head of the Department of Business Administration. Shortly after, Dr. Mordicai Johnson, President of Howard University in Washington, D.C., offered him a similar position which he reluctantly turned down to honor his commitment to Atlanta University. The news of Singleton's outstanding record reached Dr. John M. Gandy, President of Virginia State College for Negroes, who offered him the position as Chairman of the new Business Administration Department.
After accepting this position in 1930, he met and eventually married Irene Sugg. The couple never had any children; however they made a tremendous impact in the lives of area students. Mrs. Irene Singleton held many positions in the Petersburg Public School system including teacher at the Halifax Training School, principal of Blandford Elementary School and Supervisor of Federal Programs.
An illustrious career as professor of accounting along with his duties as Chairman of the Department of Business Administration and services in many other areas of the college's programs led to Singleton's promotion to the position of Director of the School of Commerce.
In February 1936, a group of middle-class activists and Virginia State faculty members established the Petersburg Negro Business Association. With civil rights activist and Chairman of the History Department Luther Porter Jackson at the helm as Chairman, the group sought to enhance the socio-economic and general living conditions in the community.
He was appointed by President Gandy as the Director of Public Relations which required that he report on events at the College, including sports. He served in this capacity until 1937. Singleton was later elected as Chairman of the Athletic Policy Committee at Virginia State in 1942. Out of this grew his participation in the activities of CIAA known then as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association (now the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association). Singleton was elected president of the CIAA in 1943, serving three years. He was later named Honorary President of the CIAA and was elected to the CIAA Hall of Fame in March 1968. Along with his other duties, he also served as Dean of Men for a number of years.
Singleton was also instrumental in organizing the Virginia State Federal Credit Union in January 1939 which was owned and operated by the employees of Virginia State College, growing to be a million dollar bank prior to his retirement. He served as treasurer of the Credit Union from its inception until 1969.
In February 1950, he was invited to consider the position of President of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, however, he declined. Upon the death of Virginia State College President Luther P. Foster in 1949, the State Board of Education of Virginia considered George Singleton as the next president of Virginia State College. Although he was not chosen, the consideration was a testimony to his excellence as an educator and administrator.
In 1966, Virginia Union University in Richmond honored him by conferring the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.
He was appointed to numerous boards by Governors’ William Tuck, Mills Godwin, Jr. and Linwood Holton. He was initiated into the Tau Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. while a student at Atlanta University and affiliated with Delta Omega Chapter. He was also a 32nd Degree Mason, a Shriner and held a Certificate of Rank from the United States Karate Association (Honorary Black Belt).
Known for his favorite expression to his students, “No Shilly Shallying”, Dr. George G. Singleton, known as "G.G.” by faculty and staff," in 1968 after 38 years of service to Virginia State.
During his retirement years, Singleton still maintained an active interest and participation in varying phases of the program of the College and received several awards. The George G. Singleton Accounting Scholarship Fund was later established in his honor by the School of Business, Department of Accounting. He served Virginia Union University as professor of Accounting during the 1970-71 school year.
Singleton led the planning for the erection of a new commerce building for Virginia State College and in 1973 he was honored by having the building named after him, Singleton Hall.
The Board of Visitors of Virginia State College awarded him the rank of Professor Emeritus in 1974. Dr. George G. Singleton passed away on June 14, 1980, his funeral was held in the Virginia Hall auditorium on the campus of Virginia State University.
Mrs. Singleton passed away in Petersburg on July 3, 2001 at the age of 91. The Singleton’s are buried in the Rose Garden Cemetery in South Boston (Halifax County), Virginia.