LEWISTON — Vince “Coach” Singleton was a beautifully generous mountain of a man who could light up a room just by entering it. He couldn’t help it. Facebook exploded with an outpouring of grief and uniquely wonderful memories when his passing was announced. He left his corner of the world a little dimmer Thursday morning, Jan. 4, when he died. Brain cancer had been discovered Oct. 30, 10 days after his 66th birthday.
Vincent Lapaul Singleton was born Oct. 20, 1951, in Washington, D.C., the second of nine children born to Mavis L. and Theodore R. Singleton. Football was his passion in high school and college, and a football scholarship funded his college education. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree, a bachelor’s in sociology and criminal justice.
After his graduation from Missouri Western State University in 1973 and after additional training in culinary arts at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Vince spent 13 years managing food services. He won awards for his culinary skills when planning major holiday events and was also respected for his empathy and compassion by the inmates.
Seeking a more peaceful life, he came to Maine in 1985 with a construction company as their painter for a contract at Brunswick Naval Air Station. (His father had trained him as a young man to assist him in his painting company.) He applied for and was granted the major painting contract for military housing at BNAS after the initial company moved on to another state.
In 1989, he met his wife, Catherine. They both told people “it was a God thing” and many marveled at the magic of them together. They celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary on Oct. 21, nine days before his brain tumor was discovered.
During this time, Vince founded the semi-pro football team, the Maine Warriors, and was their head coach. They competitively played teams in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, as part of the Eastern Football League. “Coach,” as he became known on and off the field, was referred to on TV and in the Sun Journal as “The Man with the Gold Teeth and Iron Voice!”
His meeting before the Lewiston City Council to request permission to use the Lewiston Athletic Field for home games was recognized this past year in “25 Years Ago Today” as the most important of their stories for that day. He was also inducted into the NCAA Football Hall of Fame last year as a result of his football power and his team at Oklahoma A&M winning the national title after an unbeaten season.
When BNAS closed and his painting contract ended, Vince applied to work as a substitute teacher for the Portland School Department and was soon hired full time to assist in the special education program at King Middle School. He loved his students and they, in turn, loved him for what one former student described as his “compassionate and energetic way of ‘coaching’ them to succeed.” Another student posted on Facebook, “I can’t believe it has been 20 years but I wanted him to know that he was the best teacher I ever had!” The students of King Middle School dedicated their yearbook to him!
Vince returned to college at the University of Maine at Augusta to earn a second degree in musical performance with bass guitar, both acoustic upright and electric, as his instrument. Former professors, fellow students and fellow musicians are crowding Facebook with memories of their time playing with him and the impact he has had on their lives. When “Coach” Vince played, he would close his eyes and let the music flow through his fingers. When that happened, he and those listening were transported to an exciting other zone!
He taught bass to a number of private students whose parents had contacted him to not only teach the instrument but also “shine his light” to coach them into a more positive direction for their lives. One of his students, of whom he was very proud, won a high school competition for “Best Bass Player in Maine,” along with a scholarship to a prestigious music college in California. “Coach” Vince taught him not only to just play the notes but also to feel and live the music by making his instrument speak!
His final job before he retired was the weekend cook at Tambrands in Auburn. It was said by many that he was “the closest thing to gourmet they would ever experience!” Workers would even change their shifts and volunteer to work weekends to eat his food, or would come in on their days off to bring his food home to their families.
Vince is survived by his wife, Catherine; daughters, Jessica Theriault, and husband, Ed, Amanda Fox, and husband, Rick; sons, Gary Singleton, Kyle Singleton, and Michael Singleton, and fiancee, Datona; granddaughters, Morgan, Mercedes, Tessa, Courtney and Zendaya; grandsons, Hunter, Sire and Micaiah; great-grandsons, Casamir and Whyllo; great-granddaughters, Oryna and Ariah; brothers, Theodore Jr., Kenneth, Wayne, Dwight and Edward; sisters, Avundia and Marilyn; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents; and sister, Vonida.
Catherine wishes to thank the hospice team of Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice and the nursing staff of M1 at CMMC for their care and support.
Vince “Coach” Singleton