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Funeral Services Held for Former UK President Otis A. Singletary

Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver or Ralph Derickson

Photo of Otis A. Singletary
Otis A. Singletary

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“I knew him from the time I was a faculty member in the UK College of Engineering as a man of impeccable integrity."

- UK President Lee T. Todd Jr.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 24, 2003) -- About 350 friends, former students and faculty members, and many Kentucky dignitaries, including five former Kentucky governors, attended funeral services today for former University of Kentucky President Otis A. Singletary who died Sept. 20 at the age of 81.

In addition to his wife, Gloria Walton Singletary, Singletary is survived by three children, Bonnie Singletary Robertson of Winston-Salem, N.C.; Robert Scot Singletary of Greenville, S.C.; and Kendall Singletary Barret and her husband Max Barret of Lexington; four grandchildren, James David Robertson, Jill Robertson Stokes, Jeffrey Lee Robertson, and Addison Singletary Barret; and four great-grandchildren.

The services for Singletary, a native of Gulfport, Miss., were conducted in the UK Singletary Center for the Arts by Charles P. Roland, a colleague and close friend for nearly 50 years.

The Singletary Center for the Arts was named in honor of the eighth UK president, as were the most coveted scholarships offered by the university.

Singletary was also eulogized by Terry Birdwhistell, the director of the oral history program in UK Libraries. Birdwhistell, who has conducted extensive interviews with Singletary, characterized the President Emeritus as a “man who liked challenges” and who presided over the university “during one of the most progressive periods in UK’s history.”

Birdwhistell quoted Singletary as having said, “I sometimes feel I’m involved in a conspiracy here to build a better university than Kentuckians are willing to pay for.”

Birdwhistell said Singletary served an uncharacteristically long period of time as a university president (1969-1987). “His tenure was three times the national average of university presidents at the time,” he said.

Roland, who went to college with the former president and then served with him as a faculty member at UK for 18 years, said Singletary became president of UK “during one of the most turbulent moments in the history of American colleges and universities.”

Among the Kentucky governors attending the funeral was Louie B. Nunn, who was governor in 1969 and who ordered the Kentucky National Guard to the UK campus to calm a student protest over the Vietnam War.

In his running of the university, “Singletary enhanced the lives of countless Kentuckians and will continue to enhance Kentuckians’ lives for many generations to come,” Roland said.

Also delivering eulogies on behalf of students during Singletary’s tenure were Mark P. Bryant, a 1973 UK law gradate from Paducah, and Andrew Oppmann, a 1985 journalism graduate, who is now the editor of the Post-Crescent, a daily newspaper in Appleton, Wis. Oppmann was an editor of the UK daily student newspaper in 1983-84. The Kentucky Kernel became an independent publication in 1971.

Bryant noted that Singletary loved students of every generation and encouraged students to go to Frankfort and lobby for a student representative on the UK Board of Trustees, which they did. Today, the president of UK Student Government serves as a voting member of the board.

Following the services at UK, Singletary was buried in the Lexington Cemetery.

As a memorial, the family suggests that donations be made to the UK Singletary Center for the Arts.

For further information about Singletary, go to this Web site.


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