Saturday, June 25, 2016
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
St. Anthony of Padua
2510 Richmond Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
In many ways, Nancy Singleton defined the meaning of devoted wife, nurturing mother and grandmother, sister, and friend. Her dedication was without end, and her interests exemplified Nancy’s one of a kind nature. She always did the best she could, and once Nancy put her mind to something, there was no stopping her. With her sassy and witty nature, Nancy was someone with whom others could rely upon for an honest opinion and positive word. She lived fully surrounded by those she held most dear and her legacy will be forever remembered.
By 1935, life was greatly defined by the trials of the Great Depression, yet Americans forged on with lasting hope. President Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected to a second term while Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire danced their way into the hearts of many. Born on June 2, 1935, in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nancy was one of five children born to Charles and Mary (Murray) Wilcox. The Wilcox family made their home on Leonard Street where Nancy would remain throughout her childhood. A quaint, small home, Nancy and her siblings shared a small bedroom which made for very close quarters.
Nancy’s father supported their bustling household working for GM while her mother remained at home as a busy homemaker. Devout to their Catholic faith, they attended St. Alphonsus Catholic Church where Nancy and her siblings made their Holy Sacraments and attended school. After having walked to school one day, Nancy loved telling the story about the time they all arrived at school one morning only to be sent home due to a fire the night before. Upon returning home, their mother demanded that they return to school when they had a difficult time convincing their mother that the school had really been involved in a fire!
Recalling the days of her youth brought immeasurable joy to Nancy’s heart. Family weekend picnics were always enjoyed at Camp Lake in Sparta, and taking in a movie with friends at the Creston Street Theater made for fun times. She especially loved family trips to Sault Ste Marie in the northeastern Upper Peninsula where memorable times were shared visiting extended family. It was also the place where Nancy’s grandfather had been one of the original builders of the Soo Locks at a time when they were made from wood, and later, poured concrete.
Nancy’s life turned in an exciting new direction on one of their family picnics at Camp Lake when she met a handsome fellow in the Army by the name of Leo Singleton. Quite smitten, they soon became sweethearts. Following an eight-month courtship, Nancy and Leo were happily married on April 11, 1953, at Holy Family Parish in Sparta. After spending an enjoyable honeymoon in the U.P., the newlyweds made their first home together at Camp Lake. Leo soon began his apprenticeship in sheet metal all while working side-by-side with Nancy updating their home. Quite a team from the beginning, some of their projects included building a stone retention wall and digging out a Michigan basement.
Blessed with six children, Nancy was a loving and nurturing mother to James, LeeAnn, Linda, John, Paul and Elizabeth. Sadly, their little girl, Linda tragically died in a drowning accident at the age of six which truly devastated their family. With faith as her guide, Nancy’s determined spirit and loving care for her children remained. She made a good home for Leo and the kids, and she knew how to bring a good balance to their home. As a parent, Nancy was not only the nurturer but the disciplinarian, too. Although just as loving, her children always knew when she meant business!
That very balance Nancy possessed was evident in many areas of her life. She found time in the late sixties to drive a school bus for Kenowa Hills, and she coached volleyball at St. Alphonsus School. To the delight of her family, Nancy’s pie-making skills were simply the best. She had a special gift when it came to baking pies, and her apple, blueberry, and cherry pies were family favorites, yet for Nancy, her favorite sweet treat was always ice cream. Nancy was also a skilled bowler. For many years she played on leagues and participated in tournaments, carrying a 200 average.
In 1973, Nancy and her family moved to Gaylord, Michigan where Leo and Nancy began their own family business, North Central Steel and Fabricators. Located in Vanderbilt, Michigan, Nancy and Leo had a wonderful partnership. She handled the business side of the company while Leo concentrated on the fabricating side of the business. To update her skills, Nancy even took several business courses at the local college. Through their business, they became members of the Associated Building Contractors, a professional, small business organization.
Tragedy once again filled Nancy’s heart with great sadness and that of her family when her eldest son, James, at the age of 31, died tragically in an electrical accident at his home. Ever nurturing, Nancy again held her family together through these devastating days. Although gracious in all ways and discerning beyond compare, Nancy’s heartache was something only a mother could understand.
Nancy and Leo had the advantage of retiring early. They enjoyed traveling in their fifth wheel RV, and for the first summer of their retirement, they took a trip to Alaska. One winter they traveled through Mexico. Eventually, they made Benson, Arizona their home base for ten years where they made special and lasting friendships. These were truly cherished times for Nancy and Leo. They worked hard, ran a successful business, raised their family, and had more than their share of grief. Through the years, Nancy was an avid reader of novels and books about U.S. and the Upper Peninsula history. She was into beading, having made beautiful bracelets and necklaces she shared with family and friends. One of her most prized possessions was a 100-year-old Irish Shillelagh walking stick that was brought to America by her great-grandfather.
With over 40 years of being a grandma, Nancy was in her element when surrounded by those she so dearly loved. Her 13 grandchildren over a 25 years span allowed Nancy to have a unique and special relationship with each of them. And to Nancy, they were indeed special in their own way. A good, dedicated mother, goodness poured from Nancy’s heart towards her grandkids. Sometimes her actions spoke louder than her words, yet with her sassy nature, Nancy could always come up with something witty to say. Just a few of the many things to love about her, Nancy Singleton achieved much in her lifetime. A joy to know and love, she will be dearly missed and her memory treasured.
Nancy Ann Singleton, age 81, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend passed away on Sunday, June 19, 2016, with her loving family at her side. Her husband, Leo preceded her in death on March 4, 2012. Also preceding her in death are two children, James Singleton and Linda Singleton; a grandson, Adam Singleton; and her brother, Jack Wilcox. Nancy is survived by her children, LeeAnn (Tom) Vallone, John (Sheila) Singleton, Paul Singleton, and Elizabeth (Dan) Brown; grandchildren, Jim, Joe, Jamie, Vito, Leo, Bridget, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Sarah, Mary, Bailey and Peter; and 19 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are her sisters, Bette Nowicki, Kay Hall, and Ruth Ellinger; brothers and sisters-in-law, Brian and Barb Singleton, Roger and Bonnie Singleton and Donald Bates; many nieces, nephews, and friends. Cremation has taken place. A Mass of Christian Burial for Nancy will be celebrated Saturday, June 25, 2016, 2:00 PM at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Burial in Mt. Calvary Cemetery at 10 AM Saturday. Relatives and friends may meet her family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW on Friday from 6:30–8:00 p.m., with the Rosary prayed at 6:00 PM. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can learn more about Nancy's life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guest book.