The GDS Foundation was started by Dave Singleton’s children, Jon Singleton and Marea Singleton Haslett. Our focus will be to provide resources for economic development and entrepreneurship with an emphasis on the Native Entrepreneurship Program participants and the Rural Development Leadership Network. Once we become more established, we will broaden the scope to include research and advocacy for social ethics and support of Native American, African American, and Hispanic communities.
George David Singleton
MAY 29, 1935- SEPTEMBER 7, 2018
G. David Singleton was born on May 29, 1935 in Chicago Illinois and was raised in Willows, California. He passed away at his home in Davis, California on September 7, 2018. He is survived by his two children, Jonathan David Singleton (and his wife Candace) and Marea Elisabeth Singleton Haslett (and her husband James), and his beloved four grandchildren. Brandon Matthew Singleton, Emily Michele Singleton, Jacob Daniel Haslett and Gavin Davis Haslett. He was the son of Hal A. Singleton, a former Glenn County Sheriff, and Lotus Singleton, a high school teacher and civic leader, both of whom preceded him.
Dave Singleton served as a human rights advocate for Native American, Latino, and African American communities for over 60 years in New York, Alabama, and California. He excelled at building bridges between public and private sectors to empower and support sustainable communities with increasingly impactful results. He leaves behind a professional legacy of multitudes whom he mentored, and countless projects he guided or procured grant funding to develop.
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front….” – Nelson Mandela
Dave graduated from Willows High School in 1953 where he was a member of the choir, theater, football, basketball and track teams. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. While attending UC Berkeley, he was a member of the Freshman Basketball Team, National Championship Rugby Team, Championship Intramural Football Team, member of Collegians and California Honor Society, Theta Delta Chi. From 1959- 1964, Dave served as an Ensign Chaplain in the US Naval Reserve and resigned with an Honorable Discharge. In 1963, he graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Masters in Divinity majoring in Social Ethics and was ordained in San Francisco. It was during his time at Princeton that he became interested and involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He spent time working with church programs in East Trenton, NJ and in West Philadelphia. In the Spring of 1963, he traveled to Birmingham to meet with black ministers and civil rights leaders. Inspired by how his parents believed people should be treated, Dave forged a path to help and empower people. In his view, all people should be regarded with fairness and compassion. These two words were the cornerstone of his work and relationships.
After graduating from Princeton in 1963, Dave was selected by the Board of National Mission to serve as an urban intern with The Soundview Bruckner Community Development Council and other community programs at Soundview Presbyterian Church in the South Bronx. Here he became a Youth Minister for the Latino and African American programs. He also became involved with the Freedom Schools and the Bronx chapter of Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), participating in nonviolent methods of protest in the White Castle demonstration in July of 1963 and the March on Washington in August of 1963.
In December of 1963, he married Eugenia M. Mabry from Birmingham. He and his wife returned to the Bronx to complete his term at South View until their return to Birmingham, Alabama. They had two children, Jonathan and Marea and were married for 11 years.
From 1964- 67, he presided as Minister at Handley Memorial Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. While there, Dave developed neighborhood programs leading to the formation of Greater Birmingham Ministries, Inc., ministered as the Youth Advisor to the Birmingham Presbytery and as Youth Advisor to the Alabama Region, and was a founding member of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity (JCCEO). Between 1967-75, he served as the Deputy Director and then became the Executive Director of JCCEO, developing programs including Head Start, economic development, counseling, emergency food, medical services, cultural arts development, and programs for the elderly. At that time, JCCEO was one the largest anti-poverty agencies in the Southeastern United States and is still thriving as an organization today.
After moving to California in 1974, Dave began to work with Native American tribes throughout California. Dave’s maternal grandmother was part Hoopa but born in Southern Oregon. Combining his family history with his strong sense to help others, working with the Native American communities seemed to be a perfect fit. From 1975-2018, he worked as an economic development consultant with several organizations. He worked directly with the State of California’s Office of Economic Development until the mid-1980’s and the California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc. providing assistance with community programs, grant writing and entrepreneurship training. He consulted with groups in Berkeley, volunteered for the Presbyterian Hunger Program, developed the Economic Development Center, Inc., and worked with the California Native American Heritage Commission. He was one of the founding members of the Rural Development Leadership Network providing education and support to rural communities throughout the country.
In 1977, he married Vera Marcus and lived in Sacramento, CA. They were married for 4 ½ years.
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
In every position held or committee attended, Dave strived to build up the people around him. He wanted to help others succeed, whether in a business venture, obtaining a community building, or to reach educational goals. He fought to protect sacred sites and was not afraid to stand up to large organizations to preserve the land, people and spaces for which he cared so much. Dave Singleton was a man committed to serving communities by solely focusing on one person at a time, one project at a time, and one dream a time. Through the relationships built over his lifetime, he has left a legacy of commitment to serving community and family with humility, loving compassion, and everlasting perseverance.
“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” -Fred Rogers
Dave’s family is immensely grateful for the multitude of friends and colleagues who have supported him throughout his life. It is impossible to name them all, so please forgive the family for any names not mentioned. However, thank you to Mark and Silvia Estramonte and their extended family who offered him a home away from home on a regular basis, Lorenda Sanchez, Teresa Wilson, Melody Williams, and the CIMC family with the Native Entrepreneur Training Program who operated as an anchor and foundation for his work in California, the California Native American Heritage Commission who supported his efforts in protecting sacred sites, the Rural Development Leadership Network (RLDN) family who extended his work nationwide through education and leadership, the JCCEO family in Birmingham who offered a foundation of work as he transitioned from the church to civic leadership, and all of the dear friends from all over State and Nation. You will always have a place in our family’s heart.
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