The Domestic Violence Task Force of Tuscaloosa County dedicated a handmade bench on October 4 to The University of Alabama School of Law in memory of Liz Whipple, who passed away in April.
Whipple served as the interim director of the School of Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic and chairperson of the Domestic Violence Task Force of Tuscaloosa for two years. A 2007 graduate of Alabama Law, she had been a student during the first year of the Domestic Violence Clinic. The bench will be placed in the room where Whipple worked on cases as a student and where she taught as a clinical professor.
Almost six months after her passing, an intimate group gathered in the lobby of the Law Clinics and reflected on Whipple’s quick wit, colorful language, and effervescent sense of style.
She had a love of service, the outdoors, and companionship, said Tuscaloosa District Attorney Hays Webb. The bench, he said, symbolizes each of those attributes.
“It was through our profession, through our love of the law that she was able to do what she loved, serving people as Director of the Domestic Violence Task Force, as Director of the Domestic Violence Clinic,” Webb said.
Anne Hornsby, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Professor of Clinical Legal Instruction, said Whipple was a “remarkable person.” For starters, she knew more about the intersection of law and domestic violence than anyone she encountered in the 11-year history of the law clinics.
“She was funny and kind, but she had a sense of humor that had an edge that some of us here may have experienced,” Hornsby said. “She was empathetic and she was compassionate, but she was capable of being really tough and even demanding when the situation called for it.”
Tricia Perkins, a member of the Domestic Violence Task Force, recited a poem she wrote about Whipple. It was titled, “The Fighter,” in honor of Whipple’s determination to help those touched by domestic violence, while Alan Henderson, Worship Pastor at Calvary Tuscaloosa, strummed an acoustic guitar and sang Michael Jackson’s “Gone too Soon.”
On the count of three, colleagues and friends released 25 purple balloons and watched as they floated into the open sky in memory of Whipple and in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The bench was generously donated by Suzanne and John McKibbin. John McKibbin crafted the bench in honor of the legacy Whipple leaves behind. It will serve as a constant reminder of an authentic woman who fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.