Willie Battle honored with street designation after decades of service in Dunbar

Reporter: Annette Montgomery Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Decades of service working to make the Dunbar community a better place. Willie Battle is being honored with a street designation on Henderson Avenue in Fort Myers. That will extend three blocks from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to North of B Street.

Battle is 81 years old, but his work in Dunbar isn’t done just yet.

As Battle thinks about driving down Willie Battle Way, the street he grew up on in Dunbar, he can’t help but think about the long road it took to get where he is now.

“It’s exciting….you know, because I was able to get my flowers before I die…when I’m gone, I won’t know nothing at least I can get my flowers now,” Battle said.

A road in a community he helped to shape.

“I think I was about 5 my family moved there and at that time we had outdoor toilets, well water, and streets tore up so I always wanted to do something about it,” Battle said.

Battle didn’t just do something about it, as Mayor Kevin Anderson will tell you, Battle paved the way for so many people.

“He was a businessman who really forged paths for others to follow and become successful business people,” Mayor Anderson said.

As a general contractor battle was instrumental in several construction projects in the community like the Dr. Ella Piper Senior Center and the homes many neighbors currently live in.

“I would say built the community because I built maybe 300 houses during that time… Velasco Village… Battle Road,” Battle said.

He also played a major role in securing the funding to get a boulevard named after Veronica Shoemaker, the first black woman to serve on the Fort Myers City Council.

“I never knew that he was an advocate for so many of the things that’s right here in this community in Dunbar and Dr. Battle deserves everything that he’s getting and more,” Phyllis Calloway, the director of SWFL Enterprise, said.

It’s proof the community you grew up in doesn’t have to be the community you leave behind.

“Things can happen but sometimes you have to make it happen… it doesn’t just happen,” Battle said.

Battle told WINK News, he still has a lot of work to do in Dunbar. Battle is focusing on bringing more affordable housing to the community.

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