Multiple paths create great journey for Elizabethown woman

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By Robert Villanueva



City of birth: Deckerville, Mich.
City of residence: Elizabethtown.
Favorite music: Gospel.
Favorite TV shows: Court and “judge” shows, such as “The People’s Court,” which features judge Marilyn Milian, but not “Judge Judy.”
Favorite movies: “300.”
Favorite books: Historical romances.
Hobbies: Travel.

In attorney Roxann Smalley’s office, in the building where her restaurant operates, hangs a painting created by her son which depicts the title character from the TV medical drama “House.”
The office setting represents a convergence of the roles Smalley has assumed, as a nurse, an attorney and a restaurant owner.
“I’m not comfortable in any of these roles,” Smalley said.
By the same token, Smalley says she always seemed to be someone who kept busy. Her husband, Ron, is the same way.
“We’re people who are go-getters, who are always in control,” Smalley said.
Among her latest undertakings was the creation of Roxie’s Restaurant, which opened late last year in Justice Place, a renovated downtown building. Smalley said she felt called to the building after passing it on her way to the Justice Center next door.
“I have no experience in the restaurant business,” Smalley said.
Justice Place was developed to include office space in addition to the restaurant. At one point, the budget for the renovation was depleted, funding for one of the tenants fell through threatening their ability to lease the space, and just days before the restaurant was to open, two chefs quit.
Smalley, who had found faith in the past six years, said she had to believe everything would work out.
“This has been a walk of faith,” Smalley said.
With help from the city, First Citizens Bank and former Elizabethtown-Hardin County Heritage Council executive director Heath Seymour, among others, things worked out fine, she said.
Smalley said she hasn’t always been able to have such faith. She was used to being an intellectual and logical thinker when it came to pursuing her career and business interests.
The first of Smalley’s roles, as a nurse, came following an early graduation from high school in Deckerville, Mich. Smalley attended a community college and obtained a degree as a licensed practical nurse, specializing in labor and delivery, later earning her masters in nursing from the University of Louisville.
In 1984, she met her future husband. She said she immediately fell in love and later discovered he felt the same butterflies in his stomach as she did.
They were married three months after they met.
Ron was with the 101st Airborne Division and their travels took them from Germany to California. The couple moved to Elizabethtown in 1990 and Ron worked in Fort Campbell.
When Smalley began thinking about opening up a family center in the former site of the Elizabethtown Walmart, she decided to pursue a law degree. She had met an attorney of contract law about that time.
Ultimately, she graduated from law school at age 40 and was admitted to the bar in April 2004. She did not open the family center as planned, but worked as an attorney in a physician’s office and later, though she had not planned on it, became a litigator.
About six years ago, her husband was serving his second tour in Iraq when he burst a carotid artery during a workout and suffered mini strokes. He is fortunate to have survived, Smalley said.
Since then Ron spent three years in the Warrior Transition Unit and continues to make progress. He now owns DMX Contractors, a company named for their three children: Derek, Micaela and Xaviara.
“I get my strength from him,” Smalley said. “He’s the iron man; I’m the iron woman.”
Roxie’s general manager Lisa Smith characterized Smalley as a sister, calling her caring, honest, dependable and faithful.
“Roxann is a hard-working woman,” Smith said.
Smith, who is also an associate pastor of Sign of the Dove Church in Radcliff, has been Smalley’s legal assistant. She said Smalley wears a lot of hats but enjoys them.
“She loves what she does,” Smith said.
Smalley believes what she and her husband have achieved has been for the purpose of providing testimony to their faith.
“None of this is for us,” she said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached
at 270-505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.