Herbert L. Singleton Jr., 56, community activist

September 29, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Herbert L. Singleton Jr., the special assistant to the president of Sojourner-Douglass College and a community activist, died in his sleep Wednesday of an apparent heart attack at his Belvedere Square home. He was 56.

Mr. Singleton advised the East Baltimore school for the past 15 years and helped create a scholarship program for public housing residents striving for a college education.

Born in Charleston, S.C., and raised in the Cherry Hill and Edmondson Village neighborhoods, he was a 1965 graduate of City College. He earned a degree in history at Morgan State University and a law degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington.

As a young attorney, he joined Weinberg & Green, a Light Street legal firm, before going to work for Legal Aid of Baltimore. Family members said he did pro bono civil rights work while dreaming of founding a full-service African-American law firm.

Mr. Singleton and fellow attorneys Anthony Robinson and Robert F. Dashiell founded Singleton, Dashiell and Robinson on Saratoga Street in downtown Baltimore in 1975. They remained in partnership until about 15 years ago, when Mr. Singleton moved to Sojourner-Douglass College on North Caroline Street near Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"He was extremely interested in the college's mission. We serve an adult population, students who have raised a family and are working full time," said the college's president, Charles W. Simmons. "Herb designed and developed a scholarship program for public housing residents named for Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist.

"Through his help, we've had several public housing residents who came in on the scholarships he designed. They went on to graduate school. It was one of our best programs, one we were proud of," he said.

Mr. Simmons said Mr. Singleton was a person who was concerned about student services. "He was always looking for a way to help," Mr. Simmons said. "He gave honest and good advice. He was a gentle, nonjudgmental person. He was a hard worker. He could be here until eight at night."

Mr. Singleton also taught law at the college in addition to his administrative duties.

"He was always a community activist," said his wife of 25 years, the former Mildred C. Chapman. "He saw his calling as serving people - to make life a little better for those who had less."

Mr. Singleton also was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and of Huber Memorial Church.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at Huber Memorial Church, 5701 York Road.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Michael Singleton of Oberlin, Ohio; a daughter, Kelli Singleton of Baltimore; his mother, Helen L. Singleton of Baltimore; a brother, Ronald G. Singleton, of Baltimore; six sisters, Laverne Singleton of New York, Deborah Doeh of Silver Spring, Janice Brown, Hattie Singleton Robinson, Brenda Singleton, and Barbara Froneberger, all of Baltimore; and a granddaughter.

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