William C. Battle

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William C. Battle
Ambassador William C Battle.jpg
United States Ambassador to Australia
In office
July 13, 1962 – August 31, 1964
President John F. Kennedy
Preceded by William J. Sebald
Succeeded by Edward A. Clark
Personal details
Born William Cullen Battle
(1920-10-09)October 9, 1920
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Died May 31, 2008(2008-05-31) (aged 87)
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Frances Barry Webb
Alma mater University of Virginia
Profession Lawyer, Diplomat, Businessman
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Silver Star Medal

William Cullen "Bill" Battle (October 9, 1920 – May 31, 2008) was a lawyer, businessman, United States Ambassador to Australia, and president of the United States Golf Association.

Early and family life[edit]

Battle was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was the son of John S. Battle, former Governor of Virginia (1950–54). While attending the University of Virginia, Battle played on the varsity golf team, until his graduation in 1941.

Battle served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was awarded the Silver Star. He was in the same squadron in the South Pacific as John F. Kennedy and participated in Kennedy's rescue from the island on which he and his crew were marooned.

After the war, he returned to the University of Virginia, earned a law degree in 1947, and was admitted to the Virginia bar.

Career[edit]

Battle worked in his father's law firm, as well as helped his father win election as Governor of Virginia in 1950. During the Massive Resistance crisis, both Battles represented the Albemarle County Public Schools, who were being sued by the NAACP on behalf of parents who wanted their children to attend integrated schools. After joint decisions of the Virginia Supreme Court and three-judge federal panel on January 19, 1959, undercut the Massive Resistance laws known as the Stanley Plan (which, among other provisions, proposed closing any public school acceding to a court desegregation order), Battle ultimately negotiated a settlement with the NAACP, and Charlotteville public schools reopened.

The younger Battle later worked on Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign and was appointed Ambassador to Australia, serving from 1962 to 1964.

In 1969, in an election that became known for the crumbling of the last vestiges of Massive Resistance and the Byrd Organization, Battle (the Democrats' gubernatorial candidate) lost to Republican A. Linwood Holton, Jr.. Holton, who put his (white) children in Richmond's (mostly African-American) public schools, became the first Republican governor of the Commonwealth since the end of the Reconstruction Era. While Senator Harry F. Byrd had died several years previously, Virginia's other long-term Senator A. Willis Robertson also lost in this election, and when Senator Harry F. Byrd Jr. ran for re-election the following year, he did so as an "independent".

Battle later became president and CEO of Fieldcrest Mills, a textile manufacturer, where he served as president from 1971 to 1981.

In 1978, Battle was elected to the executive committee of the United States Golf Association where he served until 1989. He served as USGA President from 1988 to 1989. He had also been president of the Mid-Atlantic Golf Association in 1953.

Family[edit]

Battle died in Charlottesville, Virginia after suffering a stroke. He was survived by his wife Barry (née Webb) Battle, three children, Cullen Battle, Robert Battle and Janie Battle Richards, and six grandchildren

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William J. Sebald
U.S. Ambassador to Australia
1962–1964
Succeeded by
Ed Clark