Wilson leaves legacy of serving

It is the sentiment expressed by current U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, that we wish to echo in expressing the sense of loss upon the death of former Congressman Charlie Wilson, a Democrat.

Wilson died at age 70 Sunday as a result of complications following a February stroke.

Johnson said that though he and Wilson were from opposite parties and were election opponents, they were friends, not enemies.

Wilson had that ability, despite losing two elections for the congressional seat he held from 2006 to 2010, and it was largely because he remained close to the people of the area in spirit, if not always in action.

Wilson was elected in 2006 after having won the Democratic primary on a write-in campaign, having failed to file enough signatures on time to appear on the ballot. It was because of his personality, his firm handshake and look-the-voter-in-the-eye conduct that he was able to win that election.

Wilson’s biggest issue that worked against him was his vote on health care reform, which turned many voters away. There was a feeling that Wilson had become too Washington and not enough Ohio Valley. But Wilson remained adamant that he believed in expanding health care coverage for those in his district who otherwise were struggling to stay afloat. That stance never wavered.

And that was a hallmark of Charlie Wilson. He did not flip-flop. He studied an issue, came down on a side and remained firm once convinced.

That decisiveness surely served him well as a successful area businessman, a third-generation family businessman who made the family companies even more successful than the first generation. He also remained Charlie from Dillonvale, despite the tense battles he had faced when the will of Capitol Hill seemed different from the will of the district.

Though defeated, he did not run and hide. He ran again in 2012.

Wilson is remembered for much more, including helping garner money at the state and federal levels for a variety of projects up and down the district.

He personally supported many community charities.

When the memories of those who served with Wilson were expressed upon news of his death, words such as “service” and “honor” and “gentleman” were used.

They fit Charlie Wilson well.

His family has suffered the loss of a big personality, a father and grandfather.

The area has suffered the loss of a business leader and a voice, as well as a deep-running spirit of service.