While there is obviously sadness at the passing of Eula Battle, the wife of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, there is joy in remembering and celebrating what she accomplished.
Eula Battle passed away Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
Hundreds of teachers and countless students are better off today because she chose to put them and their needs ahead of her own.
Alison Kling is the development director at Free 2 Teach, co-founded by Eula in 2011. It's a store now packed with school supplies, lots of binders, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, paper, glue sticks and even decorations for classrooms, all provided at no cost to teachers who need them.
It's also packed with memories of a woman Kling calls kind and fearless, who dedicated the last years of her life to helping fellow educators.
“You know, if Eula was here right now, I know what she’d say. She’d say, ‘it’s about the children,’ you know, that was huge for her. And the vision of this place is to get supplies into the hands of kids who need them the most," Kling said. “This organization really embodies her heart, and she didn’t want to be in the spotlight. She wanted to be behind that desk talking to people and saying, ‘can I come pick up those old binders you told me that you had?’”
Eula was born and raised in Huntsville. She taught kindergarten for more than 30 years in Madison County public schools, then in Greengate School, a program focused on students with learning disabilities.
During a downturn in the economy, when teachers were buying basic supplies with their own money, she helped start this nonprofit that has grown to impact so many.
Kling says it's an important lesson Eula taught by example.
“You can make a difference in a small way, starting with a box of binders that will have ripple effects far beyond your own life,” she said.
When people talk about Eula Battle’s legacy, this is what comes to mind. But for those who knew her, that generosity, that spirit of giving, the commitment to her community, extended well beyond these four walls.
“She would bring us soup if she knew we were sick. If our husbands were out of town, she’d call us and say, ‘you okay with the kids? You need me to come by?’ She gave so much of herself to everyone,” Kling said.
And that, Kling says is Eula's lasting legacy: gifts of grace the Bible calls them - teaching, generosity, zealous leadership and acts of mercy. Her unwavering devotion to this community is what will be missed so much and what so many will most remember about her.
“You know, the fact that she gave herself and her heart to others,” Kling said.