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As a flock of purple and white balloons ascended, Savannah Eatmon knew what her mother Pamela Eatmon would have thought.
“She would have been smiling ear to ear like she always did,” said Eatmon, a Wilson resident.
Students, teachers and family members gathered for a candlelight vigil Tuesday in honor of Pamela Eatmon, a Fike High School teacher who was a domestic violence victim and lost her life one year ago.
“Tonight I would say she is pleased,” said sister April Batts of Wilson. “She loved Fike. She loved the kids. She loved the Fike family. Anything to do with the kids, she loved.”
Shena Boykin, a special education teacher and Fike’s special education chair, organized the event to bring awareness to domestic violence.
“We don’t want to focus on the tragedy surrounding her death,” said Boykin.
About 50 people stepped into the cold to honor Eatmon before the boys basketball games against Northern Nash High School.
“Ms. Eatmon loved our basketball teams and supported our basketball teams,” Boykin said. “Last year, she was killed right after the game during this time on Jan. 22.”
Boykin said the students “absolutely loved her.”
“She was our foods teacher and she loved to cook and she just loved those kids,” Boykin said.
Eatmon, a family and consumer science teacher, taught Evening Academy, helping students catch up on academic work if they found themselves behind. Eatmon was also an in-school Positive Behavior Intervention Support coach.
“She wanted to be so much more than be our foods teacher,” Boykin said. “She wanted to focus on the students’ behavior and how she could help them with their behavior.”
Eatmon’s family members were presented with a canvas painting produced by Fike art students led by art teacher Charity Nichols.
“It’s actually a painting that says ‘Fear not; you are worth more than many sparrows,’” Boykin said. “It is from a scripture, Luke 12:7. This was their idea. They painted it in her favorite color, which was purple.”
A reception in the cafeteria followed the presentation.
“She was the sweetest, sweetest lady,” Boykin said. “You would never have thought that anything was going on. She always had a smile on her face and she always supported her students.”
Rhonda Nixon, survivor of a brutal attack by an ex-boyfriend 14 years ago, spoke to attendees about the traumatizing event that nearly ended her life.
Many participants wore purple T-shirts with #LiveLikeEatmon on the front.
Boykin said it’s important to keep the issue of domestic violence in the forefront.
“I think it is important because we have seen an increase of deaths recently with murder-suicides,” Boykin said. “A lot of times we don’t know the signs to look for. We never knew that Ms. Eatmon was having issues. So I just want to bring awareness.”
Boykin said people often have things going on in their lives that are hidden from those around them.
“They come to work and they have a smile every day, so you would really never know,” Boykin said. “But I guess there was some little hint that we might have missed and maybe it can help somebody else in the future.”
Boykin said she’s received 100% support from fellow Fike teachers.
“My husband is a police officer, so I am aware of some of the issues that goes on with domestic violence,” Boykin said.
Pamela Eatmon, 46, was killed in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies say Eatmon’s husband, 48-year-old Anthony Lee Eatmon, shot his wife at their Black Creek home, then shot himself.
Pamela Eatmon had been a teacher in various schools in Wilson County for 20 years. She had been at Fike for 10 years.
Chara Batts, a teacher assistant who worked with Eatmon for six years, said Eatmon was a mother figure to her even though they were close in age.
“To know Pamela Eatmon is to know love,” Batts said. “She loved every one of the students here at this school. I know she’d be smiling down tonight just because of the recognition. Her smile could light up a room.”