Steven G. Singel, age 70 passed away peacefully on March 15, 2023 in his home. Born on September 14, 1952 with Down Syndrome, his parents were advised that he would likely never walk or talk. Because of the loving encouragement, guidance and unwavering devotion of his mother Elaine and father Ray, Steve proved the experts wrong and grew into a remarkable young man. He was exceptionally social and enjoyed sharing a laugh or relaying the latest sports scores and upcoming game schedules. By steadily working through challenges he was rewarded with a life overflowing with adventure, involvement and opportunity.
Steve's early childhood was spent in Beaver Dam and Oconomowoc but Madison became his lasting home in 1965. He attended grade school and special education graduating from the Badger School in 1975. He went on to employment at Madison Opportunity Center often riding the city bus to and from his daily work. He was physically active as a talented swimmer, winning numerous medals in Special Olympics competitions. He traveled extensively with organized groups visiting many national sites and attending major league sporting events. Fishing was a favorite pastime highlighted by once proudly catching a huge northern pike in Minnesota, much to the admiration and envy of his family.
To many people Steve was recognizable as the most dedicated and enthusiastic fan of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band and UW Athletics. His entire wardrobe consisted of Badger red with a few Green Bay Packer and Milwaukee Brewer items as needed for appropriate occasions. As a young man Steve was drawn to the music and excitement of the UW Band and would bike to their practice field to watch rehearsals several times a week. He quickly became a longtime friend of Director Mike Leckrone who kindly rewarded him for his support by inviting him to "guest conduct" the band at UW basketball games and making him an honorary UW Band member in 1988. In appreciation of the inclusion and friendship extended to Steve by the band members and directors his parents created the Steve Singel Scholarship Award which is bestowed each year to one outstanding UW Band member.
Inspired by Steve's dedication to the Marching Band, Very Special Arts Wisconsin (later Arts for All Wisconsin) developed VSA Band Day which provided the opportunity for persons of varying abilities to display their talents at halftime on the football field, each accompanied by an individual band member. Not surprisingly, it was Steve's honor to lead and conduct the VSA band as drum major.
Steve's love of music extended to participation in the VSA choir which performed at various local events with Steve singing and playing guitar or piano. Until recently a favorite summer activity was continuing to enjoy live music and dinner on Thursday evenings at the ZuZu Cafe in Madison.
Steve was introduced to numerous VIPs, celebrities and public figures over the years but his unique good fortune never fazed him. His natural enthusiasm and eagerness to participate made a lasting impression on those more famous than Steve. He enjoyed VSA's annual golf event at Cherokee Country Club with his "friends" Steve Stricker and Dennis Tiziani and others spending many an hour practicing his putting in his back yard prior.
Steve was a member of the Madison South Rotary Club, helping out at their brat stand prior to football games and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 1992. He was a longtime member of Bethel Lutheran Church.
After his father died in 1992, Steve and his mother became inseparable as Steve unknowingly provided her with support and companionship over the many years of widowhood she initially was not sure she could endure. Steve's gentleness, enthusiasm and joy in living life in the moment will be missed but appreciated by all who had the honor of knowing him. Rarely did a smile ever leave Steve's face. His life was one of phenomenal social growth and achievement which we all have come to admire.
Steve is survived by his brother Mark (Darcey) Singel and their family; sister Julie (Orin) Schimmel; nephews Ken Schimmel and Joshua (Lauren) Schimmel and niece Sarah Schimmel; grandnephew Orin Schimmel III and grandniece Elisha Schimmel. He was preceded in death by his father Raymond J. Singel in 1992 and mother Elaine (Eberhardt) Singel in 2016.
Special thanks and affection go to Barry and Skyler and the entire home health staff whose years of longstanding dedication and tender assistance allowed Steve to live out his life in the comfort and security of his own home.
A gathering to remember and celebrate Steve's exceptional life will be held from 1 to 3 pm on Sunday April 30, 2023 at Cress Funeral Home 3610 Speedway Road, Madison. Please honor Steve's incredible legacy by living your life with the kindness, inclusion and grace which he so lovingly demonstrated to us all.