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Marvin E. Singleton, one of the many to lay aside personal interests to serve the cause of democracy when America was at war with Germany and possessor of the Distinguished Service Medal awarded by congress for meritorious work as ordnance district chief during the World war, has for many years been a conspicuous figure among the prominent business men of the country.
He was born in Ellis county, Texas, January 6, 1872. His father, John Hawkins Singleton, a native of Kentucky, was one of the pioneer settlers of Texas where he moved in 1848; he served in the Mexican war, the Texas Revolution and as a first lieutenant in the Confederate army, in which conflict his brother was killed. Rebecca Ann Barker, his mother, was a native of Tennessee and moved to Texas with her parents during her girlhood and there she later became the wife of Mr. Singleton. She died in May, 1901, when in her seventy-second year.
The country schools of Ellis county offered Marvin E. Singleton no special advantages over those to any other young man and even this opportunity for education was necessarily shortened owing to the death of his father. He secured a position as clerk in a merchandise store where he remained only a short time, leaving to take up work as a shipping clerk in a cotton warehouse. And later he became interested in a cotton seed oil mill business which was organized in 1898 under the name of the Fort Worth Cotton Oil Company. This company built a plant at Fort Worth and Mr. Singleton was made secretary and manager of the business.
He withdrew from this company in 1902 to organize the East St. Louis Cotton Oil Company of which he was originally secretary and general manager, becoming president and general manager in 1912. He continued to fill this position until he sold out in February, 1918.
Almost immediately after selling out this business he was appointed a member of the War Labor Board of the St. Louis district engaged in an effort to adjust and settle industrial disputes. And in July, 1918, he was called to Washington, D. C., by General C. C. Williams and there appointed ordnance district chief of the St. Louis ordnance district, which included all territory west of the Mississippi river. He supervised the organizing of the St. Louis office, all ordnance work in his territory and the final settlement of all claims arising out of war contracts involving millions of dollars. It was for this most efficient service that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the government, this being the highest honor given any civilian in the United States.
Before the ordnance work had been finally disposed of he was elected the president of the Missouri State Life Insurance Company in March, 1919, and continues in this office.
Mr. Singleton was married to Miss Susie Clary of Corsicana, Texas, in 1897. Their children are: Edward C., John H., Susie S., Elizabeth R., Marvin E., Jr., Joe Ready, and June. Mrs. Singleton died January 16, 1920. The eldest son enlisted in the Field Artillery at Camp Taylor; he is much interested in football and golf, playing both games well. Mr. Singleton, too, enjoys a good game of golf but prefers, whenever he can spend any time away from business, to visit his Netherlands farm in southeast Missouri. He is a Methodist and attends the church at Kings Highway and Washington boulevard.
Mr. Singleton was married in February, 1921, to Mrs. Elsa P. Logeman of St. Louis.
He is a well known member of many clubs among which are the Noonday, St. Louis Club, Missouri Athletic Association and Glen Echo Country Club. He is a Mason, belonging to Tuscan Lodge, A. F. & A. M., St. Louis Chapter No. 8, R. A. M., Ascalon Commandery, K. T., to the Scottish Rite bodies and to Moolah Temple of the Mystic Shrine. His interest in affairs of civic importance is evidenced by his membership in the Chamber of Commerce, of which he is a director.
He has breadth of vision, as well as initiative and an unlimited supply of “stickto-it-iveness” and determination. His strength of character and his pleasing personality have not only been elements in his success in the business world but have featured largely in the accomplishments of his purposes for the benefit of others and the upbuilding of the city.