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N. Linn Hendershot dies

May 03, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Community activist and former Hagerstown City Council member N. Linn Hendershot "died with a full schedule," his younger brother, Tom Hendershot, said Friday.

Linn Hendershot died at 10:45 a.m. Thursday, his brother said Friday. He was 63.

Because he was an organ donor, he remained on life support pending possible transplants, his brother said.

The director of communications at Western Maryland Hospital Center, Linn Hendershot was at his post Monday and Tuesday of this week, his brother said.

"At 6 p.m., Linn had an episode at home and called 911," Tom Hendershot said. After he made the call, he dropped the telephone.

Emergency personnel arrived within four or five minutes, Tom Hendershot said.

Linn's sister, Marion Hardin, lives in Hagerstown and was able to reach his bedside at Washington County Hospital quickly.

"I was in Phoenix and came back Wednesday," his brother said. "Linn never regained consciousness."

When he was 3 years old, Linn Hendershot contracted polio. Afterward, he used crutches until a fall in early adulthood put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, his brother said.

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A fighter for the cause of the disabled, Hendershot - who breathed with the help of a ventilator - described a year ago in a published report how he wanted to leave this world.

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!'"

Tony Mulieri, Herald-Mail community editor, quoted Hendershot in a Herald-Mail column in May 2007 following a True Grit banquet in Hagerstown for which Hendershot was the speaker.

In a subsequent interview, Hendershot said that being asked to speak at that banquet was one of his proudest moments.

In a 2007 interview, Hendershot said he lived each day as if it were his last.

About 12 years ago, Linn Hendershot contracted bronchial pneumonia, and needed a tracheotomy to save his life. Afterward, he breathed with the assistance of a ventilator.

"When you live on a ventilator, you look at things very differently," he said in an interview. "I try to make the next day the best it can be."

Linn Hendershot said his condition gave him the drive to help others. He credited Marion as the person throughout life who always gave him a nudge.

"Can't was never an option ... whatever the challenge was, she was there," he said in 2007.

Local roots

Born in Hagerstown, Linn Hendershot and his siblings grew up in Warfordsburg, Pa., a close-knit village that Tom Hendershot credited with participating in raising them.

"Linn taught me how to throw a baseball," Tom Hendershot said. "He was my best friend and the greatest brother anyone could ask for."

Linn Hendershot graduated from the University of Maryland in 1966 and was hired as the assistant director of public relations for the Atlanta Falcons.

He left the Falcons in 1970 to pursue other professional interests, including a stint from 1992 to 1996 representing the Committee On Disability Access to ensure that the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta were accessible for people with disabilities.

It was in Atlanta after the Olympic games ended that Linn Hendershot contracted bronchial pneumonia the first time.

In 1997, he moved back to Hagerstown to receive treatment at Western Maryland Hospital Center on Pennsylvania Avenue. He was a resident there for 14 months.

Upon his discharge from the hospital in 1998, he stayed on as the chronic-care hospital's director of communications.

"Linn never applied for a job ... he was always asked to work the jobs," his sister said. That included his employment with the Atlanta Falcons and NASCAR.

With her brother for three months in 1997 in Atlanta when he first went on a ventilator, Hardin said she found out how much he really wanted to live.

"He always tried so hard," she said.

Hendershot was a member of the Hagerstown City Council from 2001 to 2005. He lost his bid for re-election and in 2006 waged an unsuccessful campaign for election as a Washington County Commissioner.

"Linn had more passion for life than anyone I ever met," Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis F. Metzner said. "Either you got on his train or you got out of the way."

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Hendershot was a caring and intelligent man and a champion for people with disabilities.

Advocate for others

One of Hendershot's causes was making sure city street corners have curb cuts for wheelchairs, he said.

"I don't think you could find one in the city that's not (handicapped accessible), and it wasn't like that before," Bruchey said.

Recently, Hendershot was involved in the effort to bring community/senior centers to Washington County - one of only a few counties in Maryland that don't have such places, he said.

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