A memorial service for Thomas E. Singer, 86, who enjoyed a long and successful career as an international businessman, most notably with the Gillette Company, who died June 12, 2012 in Woodstock will be held on July 22 at 2 p.m. at the North Universalist Chapel Society.
Mr. Singer enjoyed a long and successful career as an international businessman, rising to the position of executive vice president of the Gillette Company. He was an avid tennis player and skier, an ardent Red Sox fan and inquisitive traveler to many countries. “My father was an adventurer at heart, whether it was taking on a challenging ski run, exploring a village off-the-beaten track in France, or investing in a brand new bottling factory in Poland”, said his son, Henry, of London, England.
Mr. Singer was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Heinrich Singer and Berthe Pokroy Singer. The family escaped to the United States in 1938 just after Hitler’s invasion of the country and immigrated to West Virginia, finally settling in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Mr. Singer graduated from Brockton High School before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of first lieutenant and was awarded a purple heart. A native French and German speaker, he worked as a translator and in de-Nazification efforts in the city of his birth, Vienna, after the war ended.
Upon his return to the United States, Mr. Singer enrolled in Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut and transferred to George Washington University, from which he graduated with honours in 1951 and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1952, Mr. Singer received a Masters degree in international affairs from Harvard University. It was there that he met his wife, Ellen Colt of Brookline, Massachusetts. They both took jobs with the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., Mr. Singer on the China desk. After his wife gave birth to twins, the family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where Mr. Singer worked as assistant to the vice president of the American Metal Company. Mr. Singer then joined the Polaroid Company in Cambridge, MA before joining the Gillette Company as export manager. In 1961, he was named president of the Gillette Safety Razor Company in Argentina and he, his wife and their five children moved to Buenos Aires for five years.
Returning to the United States Mr. Singer rose in the ranks of the corporation, becoming vice president for Latin America and the Far East and Vice President for the Western Hemisphere before heading up the newly established Gillette Toiletries Company. Other positions included running one of Gillette’s subsidiaries, Braun AG, based in Frankfurt, Germany. After leaving Gillette, Mr. Singer was a consultant to the advertising industry and invested in the Caribbean, with a particular focus on Puerto Rico. He was a long-time trustee of the Faulkner Hospital and served as the honorary consul of Peru for New England.
Upon his retirement, Mr. Singer traveled widely, including white water rafting in Vancouver, Canada and penguin-watching in Antarctica. He maintained a second home in Punta del Este, Uruguay, where he was an active member of the Club de Lago Tennis Club, hosting the ‘The Singer Open’ every January.
Mr. Singer is survived by his long-time partner, Helen Curtis; his daughter Dominique Singer and her partner Joan Greenfield of New York, NY; his daughter Mary Forbes Singer and her husband David Modest of New York, NY; his daughter Carlyle Singer Jones and her husband Marshall Jones of Minneapolis, MN; his son Henry Singer and his wife Alicja Singer of London, UK; his daughter Nell Villeroux and husband Jean-Charles Villeroux of Paris, FR; and his son Robert Matthias Whitson-Singer of San Francisco, CA; five grandchildren, Kyle, Kaitlin, Mayra, Mateo and Mila; and many loving nieces and nephews, including Jacqueline Miller of Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Vivien Singer of Jamaica Plain, MA.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Salvation Army of Vermont or the Evergreen Singers of Norwich, Vermont.
This obituary first appeared in the June 21, 2012 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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