HHPR Assistant Professor Killed in Auto Accident

June 22, 2009
News Photo 4726Burna Frank (Burnie) Battles

Contact: Jill Scoggins, Office of Media Communications, (254) 710-1964

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The Baylor Family is mourning the loss of Burna Frank "Burnie" Battles, assistant professor of health, human performance and recreation, who died June 20 in an automobile accident.

According to news reports, the accident occurred on U.S. Highway 84 at 3:35 p.m., Saturday about 11 miles east of Gatesville in Coryell County. Battles was 68.

Battles attended Kilgore College and earned his bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1965 and master of science in education degree from Baylor in 1966. He was on faculty of the School of Education faculty for 42 years and taught a number of courses throughout his career, including recreational leadership, first aid, water safety, racquetball, outdoor education and others. He served on the advisory board and was a teaching associate of the Outdoor Adventure Living and Learning Center at Baylor, an LLC in North Village created in 2006. He also participated with Baylor's University for Young People program.

As news of the accident became available online, posters shared their thoughts about Battles' life and work. "He was a great teacher and encourager," wrote one. "Burnie was the most positive person I have ever met. He always had a cheerful word to give and a smile to share. Hundreds of students at Baylor have blessed to have him as a teacher," wrote another.

Dr. Jon Engelhardt, dean of the School of Education, said Battles was a "very affirming person. It seemed he never met a person he didn't like. He was positive about people and excited about life. Burnie also loved to talk about taking elementary school-age children on cave exploration trips - he was an expert in spelunking. He got such joy out of taking children on their very first experience in cave exploration and being able to give that experience to them. That came from his love of teaching. He truly embodied Baylor's commitment to teaching. He loved his students and made great contributions as a teacher."

Dr. Dale Connally, associate professor of HHPR and the director of the recreation and leisure services division, was Battles' student at Baylor during Connally's freshman year in the fall of 1979. "For the last 30 years he's been my teacher, mentor, friend and colleague," Connally said. "Burnie was quintessential Baylor -- he loved God, his family, students and colleagues. He modeled sacrificial love for us, all the while proudly clad in Green and Gold."

Battles is survived by his wife Mary Helen Battles, who he met when both were Baylor students; his three children, Aaron Battles and wife Amy; Chrissy Hopper and husband Heath; and Jay Battles and wife Eliza; his sister, Elaine Easterling and husband Bill; his brother, Fred Battles; and four grandchildren, Austin Battles, Allie Battles, Caden Hopper and Burnie Adam Battles.

Services are set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey, 6101 Bosque Blvd. A memorial guestbook and more information can be found at www.wilkirsonhatchbailey.com.

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