Minette Trosch, who served a decade on Charlotte's city council and later went on to a successful second career in law, died Friday morning. She was 75.
Trosch, a former mayor pro tem, died of ovarian cancer, according to her son, Judge Lou Trosch Jr.
After the adoption of city council districts in 1977, Trosch became one of the first district members. As a Republican, she was an influential council member who championed balanced growth and worked across the aisle with Democrats like Mayor Harvey Gantt.
"That is what I will remember the most," Gantt said. "This is a woman who, amongst others on council, did not let the party labels get in the way of trying to do some good things for Charlotte. And Minette was a leader in that."
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A few years after leaving council in 1987, Trosch enrolled in UNC Law School at the age of 50. She went on to practice with her husband and two of her three sons, specializing in family law. Another son, Lou Jr., is a district court judge. So is a daughter-in-law, Judge Elizabeth Trosch.
Born in Chicago, Trosch came to Charlotte as a child. She attended Myers Park High School and went on to college at DePauw University and graduate school at West Virginia University. She started a career in teaching but the married Trosch was asked to leave when she became pregnant and started showing, a rule at the time.
She took on volunteer roles with the PTA, YMCA and other groups before getting elected to council. It didn't take long for colleagues to realize they were dealing with a detail-oriented woman who did her homework.
In her first meeting, members were asked to approve minutes of the previous meeting. There was one problem, Trosch said: A semi-colon should have been a comma. "They all looked at her," Lou Trosch said, "like 'What are you(doing)?"
"Minette was just such a capable, bright person," said former Mayor Richard Vinroot, who served with her. "I admired her."
When Trosch decided to leave her east Charlotte district to run at-large in 1983, she recruited Ann Hammond to take her place. Then she helped her run a successful campaign.
"She was an amazing mentor," Hammond recalled. "She worked at it, but it was also a real natural gift she had. She just wanted to bring people together and had a tremendous talent for that."
Trosch was known as a neighborhood advocate at a time when residents were fighting for a voice against the powerful development community. At a time growth and development were concentrated in the southeast, she supported planning and more balanced growth.
"Minette was a big believer in neighborhoods and would go to the nth degree to make sure we heard the voices from neighborhoods," Gantt said.
Trosch brought the same traits to the practice of law. Tony Scheer, who chairs the board of Justice Initiatives, a nonprofit that advocates for the justice system, said she won the respect of fellow lawyers as well as clients.
"Minette was one of those lawyers who brought great honors upon us all in the way she practiced," he said, "and the way she worked with other lawyers and . . . her clients."
Hammond said she's not surprised.
"She just made an impact, she made a difference in whatever stage of her life she was in," Hammond said.