Ben Henick, a 1991 graduate of Hickman High School who now lives in Lawrence, Kan., contributes this reflection on the life of Eliot Battle. Find more submissions here, and submit your own by emailing submissions@ColumbiaMissourian.com.
There were four staff at HHS who, with their personal investment of time in me, made certain that I left in a gown, not handcuffs or a straitjacket. Dr. Battle was one of those four.
My memories of Dr. Battle rarely crossed my mind since graduating, but the news of his passing was ... not the news I would have chosen to wake up to today. I should add that of all the educators with whom I interacted while I was a student — at all of the schools I attended — Dr. Battle reminded me most of my grandfather.
Speaking only for myself, I say he'll be missed.
I mention my grandfather here because he, too was a career educator who left a strong mark on his district (Beaverton, Ore.) and his community ... though if we're keeping score between them, Dr. Battle wins hands down, and my grandfather would be the first to agree with that judgment if he were still alive.
For every one of my accomplishments in which I take satisfaction, and for each of my virtues, I can point to someone whose example and effort cleared a path. Dr. Eliot Battle was among those trailblazers, standing in their front rank with grace and distinction.
This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.