A feisty politician from a small town in Houston county made history in Alabama. Lucy Baxley was the state's first female Lt. Governor, and the first woman to be on the ballot for Governor in 40 years, eventually losing to Governor Bob Riley.
Losing the election was bad enough, but Lucy Baxley had no idea that her life was about to be altered dramatically. She spoke to WSFA 12 News Anchor Kim Hendrix spoke to Baxley about this pivotal turning point in the life of one of the most prominent women in Alabama politics.
Baxley has been State Treasurer, Lt. Governor, gubernatorial nominee. She has done it all, but sixteen days after last year's gubernatorial election, Lucy Baxley suffered a stroke. Doctors called it minor. Now, almost a year later it is still making a major difference in Baxley's life. She calls this her toughest opponent yet. Baxley says, "It has been a total, total change of lifestyle. This is the most difficult thing I've ever faced - no opponent, you are up against your body."
A stroke on Thanksgiving morning 2006 left this woman known for her grit and determination pondering her fate. Baxley says, "There was a time in the emergency room, I thought I could die from this." That stroke didn't end Lucy Baxley's life, but it did at least for now put an end to what had been a go till you drop lifestyle.
Baxley says losing the race for Governor was not a stress factor in her life but admits the long campaign probably took it's toll. Baxley says, "I certainly wanted to win, running to win, never felt happiness depended on winning an office, thank God. But for 18 months, I was totally engrossed, every waking moment I was thinking about the campaign where I needed to be where I need to go.
Now you might say Lucy Baxley's schedule is simplified. She now undergoes therapy to repair her condition. She says, "You know it makes you realize you can just sit still. You can shut it all off and sit still. I'm ashamed to say it, I prayed to God. Why it would happen to me, I'm not so sure some of it is I need to be still."
Always at her side, her husband Jim, who admits this has been a life-changing year for their family and marriage. Jim Smith says, "You learn to appreciate someone more, being closer."
The former Lt. Governor says she is blessed to have her family, and the many prayers from her true friends. Baxley says, "You wouldn't believe how sweet people have been to me, called me, sent flowers. When you are in politics, some people like you for the office, when you are out and can't do anything for them, and they are still there. That means so much to me. This is a new life I've been given, from here on out I want to do everything for the kingdom of God. I'm very grateful."
She's grateful and determined. Her personal deadline to walk again is December 11th, when she has a speaking engagement in Birmingham.
Lucy Baxley's name is already being tossed around as a possible candidate to head the Alabama Public Service Commission. WSFA 12 News' Kim Hendrix asked if she'd run for office again and she said she could not see it but knows she's not in charge of her days. She added right now, her goal is to walk again, take care of herself and her home.