Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

'Local hero' Singletary retiring after 51 years with Publix

Days before Christmas, Brian Singletary hovered over a checkout station at his Publix store and watched 10-pound Hormel hams glide along the black conveyor belt — 300 before they stopped coming.

"These will feed a lot of poor families,'' said Martha O'Brien, an officer with the nonprofit Volunteer Way as two burly men packed the hams in boxes. She stood on her toes to wrap her arms around the tall store manager. "You're a special man,'' she said.

Singletary hears that a lot these days, for good reason. The New Port Richey City Council even put it in writing with a resolution that called him a "true local hero.'' The council proclaimed Dec. 31 "Brian Singletary Day'' in the city.

All of which made this modest man blush and insist that all he has ever done is his job.

People call him a legend and godfather of store managers, to which he says, "I'm flattered, but I'm just a blue collar guy with a great team. That's it.''

Well, not exactly.

When Singletary retires on the final day of this month, he will have logged 51 years, 9 months and 16 days with Publix, having started as a stock clerk in Tarpon Springs in 1962. That makes him the longest-serving manager in a chain with 1,080 stores in five states. Publix has 161,000 employees and only one, a part-time produce worker in Jacksonville, has been with the company longer (53 years).

Longevity is impressive, but that isn't what earned Singletary the top three honors Publix can bestow on its employees. In 2000, he was presented the George W. Jenkins Award for Excellence, named after the man who founded Publix in 1930 and died in 1996. The company's hierarchy recognized Singletary's extraordinary record in serving customers and his community.

He came to New Port Richey in 1965 when Publix opened a new store in the Southgate Shopping Center on U.S. 19. The company later pulled him into service at other stores in Pinellas, but for the last 24 years, he has managed the Southgate store. He drew on his credibility with the company to secure major funding for the Chasco Fiesta, the city's annual celebration which generates money for several nonprofit charities. Publix's commitment encouraged other corporate sponsors.

Singletary advocated for virtually every good cause that came along, including feeding the poor. And he made a special effort to provide jobs for high school students — about 1,500 at last count.

"I looked for kids who fit the Publix model,'' explained the man who personifies the model. "Great smiles. You have to like people.''

Singletary hired two current City Council members, Bill Phillips and Jeff Starkey, when they were in high school. He employed future mayors, lawyers, doctors, teachers. He mentored young people and set an example with hard work and strong ethics.

Some employees worried that he worked too much as he came to the store seven days a week. "I live just down the road,'' he said. "This store has been my life. I love coming here. I love my people. I'm still not really sure how I'm going to handle leaving it, but it's time.''

For all his dedication and accomplishments, the last three years have been difficult and emotional for Singletary and his wife, Kally, who spent 33 years with Publix before retiring. Their son, Greg Janowski, 40, was making a career with Publix when a disgruntled fired employee shot him to death in 2010 as he sat in his car at the Tarpon Springs supermarket.

"You walk in our house and the first thing you see is his picture,'' Singletary said. "The pain never goes away.''

Now 72 and in good health, Singletary expects this is a good time to experience new things. He's never been overseas or even to New York City. He wants to see Alaska. He lives on the water but rarely touches his boat. He has played golf in the past but jokes that he has been banned from most courses.

"It's going to be quite an adjustment,'' he said. "It's kind of scary. But I quit smoking 40 years ago. Cold turkey. I can do this.''

Comments
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jalen Hudson came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Chiozza, Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributed clutch baskets down the stretch as Florida rallied to upset No. 18 Kentucky 66-64 Saturday night. "We were able to win it jus...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.But...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

WEEKI WACHEE — The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday investigated the death of a Hillsborough County man in the Eagle’s Nest, an underwater network of caves where at least 11 others have died since 1981.Even experienced divers have lost th...
Updated: 6 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Florida’s dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown won’t slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Tampa Bay is finally clear of the bitter chill that covered the region this week as temperatures picked up on Saturday. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around t...
Published: 01/20/18