John Singleton (Santa Claus) sits in his chair in entrance of a hearth at Commercial Bank on December 7, 2018. He is surrounded by the Commercial Bank employees who grew to name him a buddy. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Commercial Bank-Jackson)

“Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas” was maybe one in every of John Singleton’s most used phrases — and perhaps a favourite — round Christmas time as he was known across the Jackson neighborhood to many as Santa Claus.

At locations such as Commercial Bank-Jackson, the bearded Singleton was Santa for about eight to 10 years, throughout which he sat in entrance of a hearth, took photos with each little one, gave them a sweet cane, talked with them and requested what they wished for Christmas, Leonie Hefley, the vp of Commercial Bank, stated.

 “I remember one year it was early on, and the couple’s two children were small; they just ran to Santa (Singleton), just ran into his arms,” Hefley reminisced. Every 12 months that very same couple would include their youngsters.

“It was just really heartwarming for the children to be able to be with Santa. I think it was very special to those children.”

Friday, a buyer advised Hefley that Singleton as Santa was in all her household photos together with her children.

Singleton, born in Nashville on May eight, 1946, died in a hospice in Jackson Wednesday afternoon after his household introduced he had pancreatic most cancers Tuesday afternoon.

Authenticity as Santa and as an individual

His beard made it appear as although he was the actual Santa, however so did his love for doing it, Hefley stated.

“He took time and care with each child,” she stated.

He was a buddy to everybody on the financial institution, together with Hefley who knew him for 30 years.

“He was always very community-bonded, and he loved people; he loved being around people,” she stated. “And, that’s what I think inspired him to be Santa.”

After his spouse died, he purchased a crimson jeep and when he drove round city in it, it solely added to his Santa Claus look.

Hefley solely remembers him not being Santa one 12 months when he was first sick.

When he obtained sick with most cancers, Hefley stated it was like he was gone earlier than she and the financial institution employees knew it.

But, she is glad he obtained to be Santa this previous December.

“I will miss his zest for life and his interest in our community,” Hefley stated. “You could always count on him. He just had so many people that loved him, and it was mutual. When you think about the number of people he impacted in this community, it is grand.”

Involvement: greater than 20 years

Singleton was the identical Santa many households noticed rising up, as Santa in Christmas Parades and as Santa in some folks’s properties.

When he wasn’t Santa, he was engaged in his neighborhood.

The United States Army and Vietnam veteran and handyman served his Jackson neighborhood via charities and civic organizations, just like the March of Dimes and Exchange Club- Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

President and CEO of the Carl Perkins Center, Pam Nash stated Singleton labored with the middle for greater than 20 years.

He was a necessary board member, energetic on the constructing and amenities committee, used his occupation as handyman for the constructing’s wants and helped increase funds with the Circles of Hope Telethon and Blue Suede Dinner and Auction, Nash stated.

“He gave what he was blessed with back to the center,” Nash stated. “He was very committed to the center and the children we served. We feel very blessed that he shared his time and talents with us.”

The middle works with youngsters who’ve been bodily or sexually abused and gives forensic interviews, counseling, particular person and group counselling for the nonoffending mum or dad as properly as a relative care-giver program for kids who could have incarcerated mother and father or mother and father unable to look after them.

His work on the buildings, alone, impacted the middle. Nash stated among the buildings weren’t handicap accessible till Singleton took his personal money and time to achieve this.

“That’s a really big thing that he did for us,” she stated.

Singleton additionally assisted with minor initiatives, such as placing on new doorways or altering lightbulbs.

“He would do anything,” Nash stated. “He was just always there when we called him, and he showed up and got the job done.”

She described his persona as being prepared and prepared to assist on the first request.

Even although he didn’t work straight with households as a skilled volunteer, he typically confirmed up on the Exchange Club Christmas events as Santa and was often Santa for among the youngsters.

In interacting with the children—who’re victims of abuse—Nash stated Singleton was in character as Santa, joyful and nonjudgmental.  

Nash, herself, remembers being excited to see what Santa outfit he would put on.

“He was always joking and had a great sense of humor,” Nash stated. “John will certainly be missed.

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Lasherica Thornton is The Jackson Sun’s education reporter. Reach her at 731-425-9639 or by email at lthornton@jacksonsun.com. Follow her on Twitter: @LashericaT

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