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Paulette Sanders-Battle, founding member of Massapequa church, dies at 66

Paulette L. Sanders-Battle, 66, died May 22.

Paulette L. Sanders-Battle, 66, died May 22. Credit: Theresa Sanders

Paulette L. Sanders-Battle was a steadfast worker in the kingdom of God, a woman whose strong, powerful hands labored in service to God, her church, her family and friends. She was a woman, many said, who sought to help "the least of these."

"She would dip her hands in bleach and water, with no gloves on, to mop the kitchen floor," recalled the Rev. Patricia Rickenbacker, pastor of Living Hope Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Massapequa, where Sanders-Battle was a senior deacon. "And I said, 'Girl, you're going to mess up your hands,' and she [wouldn't] pay me no mind. And I think maybe it was just because she was a hands-on, gloves-off person, especially when it came to the church and helping other people," Rickenbacker said in her eulogy Friday of her decadeslong friend.

Rickenbacker continued: "On the one hand, Paulette could work, she could lift better than any man, and she could carry, clean, cook, serve, she could do hair, she could drive us to meetings and conventions. She would drive the children to vacation Bible school. She would drive people to rehearsals and appointments. And then, on the other hand, she would care for people. ... She would attend to their wounds. She would comfort a sick and hurt child."

Sanders-Battle was one of the founding members of the 30-year-old Living Hope church, Rickenbacker said.

The Rev. Wanda Faye Myers said in prayer, "Paulette was a worker, an untiring dedicated servant of the Lord."

"If you put it in Paulette's hands, she's going to get it done," Rickenbacker said.

The service for Sanders-Battle was broadcast on Zoom, with Rickenbacker, as well as a handful of speakers, all wearing masks, gathered in the chapel of the Joseph A. Slinger-Hasgill Funeral Home in Amityville. Many other speakers were broadcast individually on "Zoom rooms."

The restricted nature of the funeral service, because of the coronavirus pandemic that has led government leaders to limit in-person gatherings, was lamented. The Rev. Carl Washington, president of the Empire Missionary Baptist Convention Inc., said in one of those individual Zoom rooms: "She deserved a major, major service." He added that Sanders-Battle "served with stellar leadership."

Sanders-Battle of Copiague died May 22 after a two-month illness. She was 66 years old. 

Sanders-Battle was born in the Bronx, and the family eventually made their way to Long Island. She graduated from West Babylon High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Briarcliffe College in 2005 and became a certified chaplain in 2014. She had recently completed her graduation requirements from the New York Theological Seminary Certificate Program in Ministry and Leadership and was in the process of transferring credits toward her master of science degree, the family said.

She was retired from a 26-year career for New York State, working at the Long Island Development Center. She subsequently worked for many years for the Urban League of Long Island as a counselor and educator, then became a donor and volunteer. She also worked at Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services. 

Sanders-Battle was the eldest of three sisters. Her sisters Brenda and Theresa Sanders spoke at the chapel. "My sister was a very strong person," Brenda Sanders said. "She's still reminding us of what we should and shouldn't do."

Theresa Sanders, president and chief executive of the Urban League of Long Island, added, "This is hard." One of those she praised was Rickenbacker. "She has been more than just a pastor," noting the minister was there for the family at all hours. "This is the beginning of moving forward."

In addition to her sisters, Sanders-Battle's survivors include her husband, Clarence; mother, Eleanor Sanders; stepdaughters, Sonia Battle, Sonia Bulger and Nakia Sweeting; a "spiritual daughter," Tanya Rickenbacker-Bowie; several nieces; and a nephew.

She was interred at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Pinelawn.

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