By CHRISTOPHER WEAVER
DENVER (Aug. 26, 2008) - Roxanne Taylor, the Bowie insurance executive who had a stroke Tuesday in Denver, said she won't let anything stop her from doing her duty as a Democratic delegate.
During the day Tuesday, Taylor told fellow delegates who visited her in the hospital that "nothing could keep her away" from Barack Obama's speech on Thursday, said Quincy Gamble, the executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party.
Taylor had a stroke just after midnight at a convention welcoming party and was hospitalized in critical condition at Denver Medical Center.
Taylor, who has been identified as either 51 or 52, told the Capital News Service in an interview last week that she's been an Obama devotee since his appearance at the last Democratic Convention in 2004, where the candidate told the story of "a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too."
"When I heard Barack speak in 2004, I said, he's going to be president one day," Taylor recalled. "I said I'd do whatever I could to see him get into office." Now, rebounding from the stroke she suffered very early Tuesday morning, her plans haven't changed.
Taylor celebrated the first day of the convention with other delegates on Monday evening at Dixon's Downtown Grill for a private party hosted by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.
As the room emptied around midnight, Taylor sat at a table with a small group of fellow delegates and supporters. They decided to head for the buses that were waiting outside to shuttle delegates back to their hotel.
Karren Pope-Onwukwe, a Prince George's County attorney and delegate, was the first to notice that something was amiss when the group reached the sidewalk. "I looked around and she wasn't there. She was still sitting at the table," Pope-Onwukwe said.
She returned to Taylor to find her complaining about a contact lens and acting strangely, and within minutes, her mouth began to droop, Pope-Onwukwe said. They called for paramedics.
The streets of Denver are packed with heavily-armed police officers and other emergency workers to help control the convention crowds. While protesters call it a police state, this state of high alert may have helped save Taylor's life, Pope-Onwukwe said.
The first paramedics arrived within minutes of the call on bicycles, and an on-call physician was not far behind. A few minutes later, Taylor was on her way to Denver Medical Center.
Her condition was upgraded from critical, but stable, to fair by Tuesday morning.
Pope-Onwukwe, who campaigned for Obama with Taylor in the Maryland primaries, said, "What I've known of Roxanne from the year we've been working together is that she's a fighter. She doesn't give up."
When she left the hospital at 3 a.m. Tuesday, the last thing Pope-Onwukwe remembered hearing Taylor say was, "make sure you get my credentials." Taylor, only hours after her stroke, was already making plans for the upcoming convention days.
Taylor joined the campaign in its exploratory phase, enlisting in Prince's George's County for Obama with only a handful of fellow supporters.
"He's about change, and I liked the fact that he wasn't taking lobbyist's money," Taylor said, in a July interview. "That was key for me."
She joked about her career as an executive in an industry notorious for the power of its lobbying arm, the insurance business.
"I respect my profession, and it's done well by me," said Taylor, the owner of the Church Insurance Partnership Agency in Largo. "But I don't like the direction the country is going in, and I put that before an industry."
Michael Cryor, the chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, told delegates Tuesday that Taylor would be receiving a call from Obama to offer his wishes for her recovery.
Capital News Service staff writer Laurie White contributed to this report.