Supporter Spotlight: In Memoriam

In Memory of Mr. Patrick Duffield Singleton and Dr. Owen Pember Singleton

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25.05.2022

We spotlight the late Mr Patrick Duffield Singleton and Dr Owen Pember Singleton, dear friends and colleagues of Anne Reeckmann and Gary Holmes, who made a significant gift to Bell Shakespeare in their memory. Anne has shared some words about the lives and legacy of the Singleton brothers.

Dr. Owen Pember Singleton, known universally as OPS, was a lecturer in the Department of Geology at the University of Melbourne. He had a Masters of Science in Geology from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from Cambridge University specialising in the study of fossils.

He was known for his eccentricity which made his lectures and field trips very memorable to the student body. He was infamous among geologists in the state of Victoria, and a noted field geologist who published several definitive texts on the geology of Victoria. Owen’s broad interest in geology developed before the age of six when he accompanied his father, also an eminent geologist, on field trips, often infuriating his father’s students with his precocious knowledge.

Owen Singleton was my Bachelor of Science (hons.) and PhD supervisor at the University of Melbourne over a period of five and a half years from 1974 to 1979. The process was difficult, rigorous, spirited, frustrating, enraging, and full of growth and learning, as it was for most of his students. He was a great gardener, wine and food enthusiast, a self-taught expert on maritime history and the geology of Mars. He introduced me to many facets of geology, food, wine, and plants throughout my studies. It set me up wonderfully for a career in the world of geology and for dealing gracefully and productively with all manner of unusual and difficult people. I owe him a great debt.

Owen and his brother Patrick Duffield Singleton, who was a research librarian at the University of Melbourne, a classics scholar who spoke seventeen languages and a true gentleman, became lifelong friends after my graduation. They helped me design and plant my first substantial garden. Their own garden, which contained a hand built Greek theatre, was in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. They and it once starred in an episode of “Burke’s Backyard” to the theme of the “Odd Couple”. I would always visit them when I returned to Australia during the period when I worked overseas and introduced them to my husband Gary whom I met and married while working in Houston, Texas.

Gary and I would see them at least once a year for a tour of their garden and lunch. Patrick provided us with a list of classically inspired names of our first sailboat and he and Gary enjoyed discussing the classics and Patrick’s historic book collection. We attended and I spoke at Owen’s the 80th birthday celebration at the Department of Geology where he had worked for over 47 years. It was attended by many of Owen’s past students, several of whom are noted leaders in their profession, both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Owen Pember Singleton died suddenly after a fall on August 29th, 2010, at the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, aged 85. His brother Patrick died peacefully in Montrose, Melbourne, on December 6th, 2020, aged 93. Gary and I wish to honour their memory with a contribution in their names to Bell Shakespeare.

Dr. Anne Reeckmann and Dr. Gary Holmes