A giant in service to his church and community will be laid to rest Saturday.
William Louis Battles, 77, died Sunday at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital. Days earlier he underwent surgery to clear and bypass arterial obstructions after he complained of unusual physical tiredness.
Known by his nickname “Turkey,” Battles was a long-serving elected constable from the 9th District. He was a member of the board of directors of the Warren County A&L Fair, one of the largest and most awarded county expositions in Tennessee.
A familiar figure at the main pedestrian entrance to the fairgrounds, Battles overcame mid-afternoon heat, soaking rains, and chilling nighttime temperatures as he directed vehicle traffic to keep fair-goers safe.
His easygoing smile and affable manner helped him navigate difficult conversations with fair visitors demanding preferential treatment.
“He knew two-thirds of Warren County and he’d talk to the other one-third he didn’t know,” said fair president Regan Kelsey. “He was ambassador for the fair. Everyone going in and going out of the front gate saw him. He exemplified what it meant to serve the community. He was someone to look up to and he was a friend.”
Battles was among the first to volunteer with the McMinnville-Warren County Civil Defense as the agency was undergoing reorganization in 1965-68. In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, local communities, with massive support from the federal government, organized Civil Defense units to provide emergency services in the event nuclear war reached the American homeland.
“He was a prince of man,” said Richard E. Myers, former director of the Warren County Emergency Management Agency, the successor to Civil Defense. “Louis could always be counted on to go above and beyond what was expected of him. He was one of the most dedicated of the Auxiliary Police.”
“Whether it was taking training like radiation detection or fallout shelter management or working traffic at a community ballgame, Louis never failed to do his part and much more,” Myers said.
Confirming those observations, William Dillard of Hiawassee Church of Christ praised Battles as volunteer who was “real generous with his time and abilities.”
“He didn’t miss a step in helping at Hiawassee and over at Vervilla and Old Philadelphia Church,” Dillard said. “He was always eager to help.”
Morrison Mayor Sue Anderson shared much the same sentiments. “Mr. Battles was an outstanding citizen, always willing to help. He always had a smile,” she said.
The Coffee County native was a crane operator at Yorozu, after working previously at the former Carrier Air Conditioning plant in Morrison. A Boy Scout leader in the Morrison community, Battles was fond of riding his motorcycle and visiting yard sales, auctions and car shows.
Funeral service will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at McMinnville Funeral Home Chapel with interment following at Gardens of Memory.