August 15, 1911~August 15, 2011
Clarence "Leon" Singleton quietly passed away at home on his 100th birthday morning, August 15, 2011. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, August 28, 2011, at Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt, 1551 Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla, Washington. A reception will follow the memorial service. Memorial contributions may be made to Walla Walla Community Hospice through the funeral home.
Leon was born to John Harper and Lillian (Goss) Singleton in Nevada, Missouri on August 15, 1911, the family having immigrated there from Lynchburg, Virginia soon after losing their estate during the Civil War. In 1923, at the age of 12, Leon and his parents, along with Uncle Clarence and their immediate families pulled up stakes and moved to Los Angeles via two Model T Fords from Nevada, Missouri along Route 66.
(With no motels they camped in tents along the way.) Growing up in California, Leon eventually married and his first son, Glenn, was born. After a divorce, he went to work at Douglas Aircraft's Santa Monica plant and during WWII helped build twin-engine A-20 attack bombers and the large B-19 bomber, of which only one was made and flown. He also trained many Rosie the Riveters. He met and married one of them, Vilola Lorena Haight, of Sioux City, Iowa. She had two young daughters from a previous marriage, Glory and Patty Farquhar and son Steve was born in January 1941 while the family lived in Venice, California. During the final year of the war, Leon was transferred to Cheyenne, Wyoming to work on a special high security project connected somehow with United Airlines. When that was finished, he and the family relocated to Chappell, Nebraska where Leon and two WWII pilots started a business to restore surplus Navy training planes for resale on the civilian market, but they were all destroyed outside their hangers when a devastating hail storm struck. Leon found a job in the oil fields outside Cody, Wyoming in 1947 but he and Vilola separated and she moved to Red Lodge, Montana taking along the three kids. Leon then relocated to Walla Walla later that year and when he and Vilola decided that Steve might be better off with his father, Leon drove to Red Lodge and picked him up, driving back to Walla Walla in 1948 where Steve began the second grade at Edison school. Moving to the airport sometime after that school year, Leon met a next-door neighbor, Jewel Smith Detering and Leon's family immediately and happily increased with the addition of three wonderful children, Velda, Fred and Arden Detering. Later the family moved on to North Third Street, West Main Street and then to Balm Street for a number of years until relocating first to a house on Boyer Avenue and eventually to Golden West Estates near the former Blue Mountain Mall.
Leon was an avid traveler, often taking his camera on trips to seek out wagon trail ruts or finding rocks to convert into pretty stone jewelry and belt buckles with a club known as "Rock Lickers". He also loved dancing, camping, fishing, target shooting with rifles and pistols and exploring the great Northwest. Leon was an Eagle Scout and later a Scoutmaster in Walla Walla. His association with the National Rifle Association began with sharpshooter medals from the 1930s that now adorn his Eagle Scout sash. He's been an Endowment Life member of the NRA. Leon is also a life member of the Sons of the American Revolution and of the Missionary Baptist Church.
Leon is survived by his sons: Stephen Singleton of Walla Walla, Billy Miller of Columbus, Montana, and Arden ("Dete") Detering of Wenatchee; and daughters: Velda Jewel Schoessler of Portland, Oregon, and Glory Mahan of Red Lodge, Montana, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Genevieve
The family wishes to recognize and thank all the wonderful Hospice personnel
who assisted in making Leon's final weeks comfortable.
Friends may write memories and sign the online guestbook at