Saturday, February 7, 2004

Barbara Battle connected with kindergartners

She was teacher, principal

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PLEASANT RIDGE - Barbara Battle - a kindergarten teacher for Cincinnati Public Schools for 21 years - couldn't shop at Kroger without someone recognizing her familiar, kindly face.

"We would be out shopping and an adult would approach her and say, 'Mrs. Battle, do you remember me?' She would look at the face for 15 seconds and almost every time she would remember the 5-year-old old version of that face," said her husband, Lynwood Battle Jr., a director at J.C. Battle and Sons Funeral Home.

"Everybody remembers their kindergarten teacher,'' he said. "In that many years of teaching, you've got a lot of 5-year-olds who got their start in Barbara Battle's kindergarten. She thought that it was a gift she had been given - to be able to connect with kindergartners like that."

Mrs. Battle, 61, died Monday at Jewish Hospital in Kenwood, 48 hours after having a massive heart attack. The Pleasant Ridge resident had multiple sclerosis and diabetes for a number of years.

She taught at Osage Primary in Price Hill, Losantiville Elementary in Golf Manor and Clifton Primary before becoming principal of Kirby Road Primary School in 1990.

"I may be a principal," she used to say, "but I'm just a kindergarten teacher in principal's clothes."

She was born in Lorain, Ohio, to Charles and Geraldine Thompson in 1942. She earned a bachelor's in education from Ashland College and a master's in education administration from Xavier University.

Soon after she married Mr. Battle in 1965, they moved to the Panama Canal Zone, where he was sent by the U.S. Army.

Mrs. Battle took a job teaching kindergarten at the Pan Canal Schools, where her salary tripled that of her husband.

"That was back in 1966," her husband said. "It certainly gave us a chance to do more in the country than we would otherwise have on a second lieutenant's salary.

"She was teaching the whole 38 years we were married,'' he added. "Our usual end-of-summer task was, just the week before school, we would pull out the huge bulletin board folder and transform this barren room that had just been freshly scrubbed into Barbara Battle's kindergarten. She knew what kindergartners needed.''

Illness forced her to retire in 1995.

"I just loved her so much and am just missing her so much,'' her husband said. "It's been a long, wonderful journey. Being a mortician for 40 years doesn't give me an edge to cope with this."

Mrs. Battle was a devout Christian and member of Allen Temple A.M.E. Church.

In addition to her husband, survivors include two daughters, Monica Battle of Washington, D.C., and Brooke Felsburg of San Diego; and a brother, Charles Thompson of Whiting, N.J.

Services have been held. Burial was at Spring Grove Cemetery.

Memorials: Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater Cincinnati, 4460 Lake Forest Drive, Suite 236, Cincinnati 45242; American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 2680, North Canton, OH 44720; or Allen Temple A.M.E. Church, 7030 Reading Road, Cincinnati 45237.


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