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Sharpsburg's brave lady

May 26, 1997

If anyone is looking for an example of courage under fire, they need look no further than Denise Troxell, the Sharpsburg councilwoman who underwent a double-lung transplant Thursday night. To agree to major surgery to improve one's life is one thing, but what impresses us is that while she was waiting for her transplant, she refused to live half a life.

Troxell is 42 now, but at age 30, doctors discovered a hole in her heart. The hole was repaired, but not before it had caused irreparable damage to her lungs. Even walking up a slight incline left her out of breath and forced her to retire from her post as a language arts teacher at Boonsboro Middle School.

Despite that, and the loss of her husband to a fatal illness, Troxell did not consider herself a victim. If she could not do all things, she reasoned, she could do some things that would make a difference.

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And so this past January, she accepted an appointment to the Sharpsburg Town Council, to fill the seat of Sidney Gale, who'd been appointed the town's vice-mayor.

Now there are town councils where members meet once a week and cordially discuss the issues facing their municipality, until solutions are agreed upon. And then there is Sharpsburg, where the tension can get thick enough to cut with a knife, as the council argues tough issues like: How much development can be allowed without ruining the historic character of the town?

Troxell walked into the situation knowing what she'd have to deal with. She tried to be the voice of reason and compromise, even as she waited for the cellular phone she carried everywhere to ring with the news that, yes, it was time for her chance at a full and healthy life.

Interviewed in March, Troxell was not preoccupied with her condition; she was more interested in promoting Sharpsburg Heritage Days this coming Sept. 13 and 14. The advice she offered that day bears repeating: "Getting involved, well, it's a trick that tricks you into not focusing on your own troubles." We look forward to seeing Troxell involved here again very soon.

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