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Lieutenant Troy Sorbello
Commander, 9th Virginia Cavalry
May 9, 1963 - September 23, 1998

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Note: (August 23, 1999) 11 Months to the day after troy died, I happened to notice from the web logs that this page is still averaging 1 visit per day.

Troy Sorbello died on Wednesday, September 23, 1998. He had been battling Hodgkins disease for many years and had undergone chemotherapy, , and a "bone marrow transplant" (stem cell transplant).

This page is primarily intended for the benifit of people who new Troy, although I will include some information for curious visitors from my homepage or the Dreams of Life homepage. This page is an attempt to preserve the memory of Troy and to maintain the fidelity of that memory. I think I will be able to add many more pictures of Troy in early 1999.

A memorial service was held on October 4, 1998 at Springdale Farm, Charlottesville, VA. Well over a hundred people were in attendance, not to mention a dozen each of horses and dogs. Dozens spoke publicly on his behalf. I was not one of them; quite frankly, I would have lost it if I had tried to come forward (indeed, that is also the reason this page is currently very brief). The ceremony was unusual but very appropriate.

The behavior of the horses and dogs seemed to indicate that they, too, knew what was going on. Animals are often very sensitive to peoples emotional states. The horses would have been upset to start with from the fact that someone they were used to seeing almost every day was absent. To be confronted with a large group of grief stricken humans would have further upset them and I suspect they were able to make the connection betwen the two events. The behavior of the horses sometimes disrupted the ceremony and even provided a form of comic relief. Although I didn't realize it at the time, some of the dogs also moved into a protective formation around the crowd of people.

Troy was a charismatic, gentle, horse trainer who loved animals. I am reminded of Scott Helfer, an early pioneer in affection training for animals, who is described in the autobiography "The Gentle Jungle" and who provided exotic animals for many major Hollywood movies. Similarly, I think of Troy whenever I see Monty Roberts (the person the movie The Horse Wisperer was based on). All three had a skill in relating to animals, including humans.

Troy was very active in civil war reenactment. Living in virginia means you pretty much have to be in a confederate unit although that did not particularly agree with his personal politics. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to attend one of his reenactments, although I would have liked to. He was very dedicated to making these reenactments as authentic as possible. The memorial service included a traditional cavalry ceremony wherein Liz, Troy's mount of 20 years, outfitted with a saddle and with Troy's boots pointing backwards in the stirrups.

Troy was a rather tall person and he usually wore his trademark hat which made him easy to find in a large crowd. Whenever I arrived at Friday's after five, I would raise the periscope, so to speak, and look for that hat.

He liked listening to live music. Some of the musicians he would frequently harass included Joe Mead, The Hogwaller Ramblers ("You guys sound great, even when you suck"), and Derry Aire; members of each attended the funeral and some performed. I think Jamie plans to add a tribute to the Rambler's site.

On Thursday, July 23rd he came over to my place to update a web page advertising a horse for sale. At about 5 or 6PM he left my apartment to go to the hospital for what should have been a pretty routine stay. He was suffering from shingles but generally was looking much better than he had been. I was expecting him to continue to recover and that I would be seeing more of him than I had been. He never left the hospital. About 5 days later he suddenly became worse and he died after exactly 2 months in the hospital.

Susan Sorbello

Troy is survived by his loving wife, Susan. Susan would like to continue her life her and continue his work with the horses and civil war reenactments. She has founded a not for profit organization called Dreams of Life to raise money for cancer research.

Funeral Pictures

I tried to take some pictures at the funeral. I felt uncomfortable doing this and several other problems prevented me from getting many. I did want to get some pictures of the ceremony itself, to sort of imortalize the tribute, and also get pictures of some of the people there if I could catch them when they were looking presentable, such as during one of the lighter moments of comic relief (I certainly did not want to repeat the spectacle the press made of the challenger disaster). One of the nice things about the digital camera is that you can erase images that prove unflattering. The low battery light came on just as the service was starting and I had left the replacement batteries in the car so I was unable to change batteries until the end of the service. Due to a serious flaw in the camera design, if the battery actually dies while an image is being saved the camera can be destroyed; nonetheless, I continued taking pictures. My location was bad and I was trying to be fairly discreet about taking the pictures. Looking after some of the other attendees, trying to pay attention to the service, and my own grief all tended to interfere.
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Other Troy pages

Jamie added a Troy page to the Hogwaller rambler site.

His master's voice

Here is an audio sample of Troy's voice for archival purposes. Nothing particularly exciting, just his answering machine message. Availible in .au and .WAV formats.

9th Virginia Cavalry

Company B home page. The NCWA has some information on the 9th. There is a page which has some info on the Page County Confederat Veterans.

A note to mutual friends

I would like to encourage mutual friends to continue their relationships and not let any awkwardness associated with Troy's death interfere.

About this page

Please e-mail me any corrections or additions, anecdotes, pictures, links, etc. I am avoiding fancy decor and layout on this page because that might interfere with accesability now (the last thing you need in a moment of grief is technical difficulties) and it would certainly interfere with the archival purpose of this site.

This file is maintained by Mark Whitis (whitis@freelabs.com).

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