Charlie Wilson

FROM SMALL town businessman to Capitol Hill, Charlie Wilson lived a full and productive existence.

The former U.S. Congressman died Sunday in Florida from complications of a stroke. He was 70.

Wilson’s death is being mourned by the countless people he served and befriended. One of his greatest traits was that he was a peoples’ person. Charlie loved interacting with anyone he came in contact with.

Wilson also had a deep and genuine affection for Eastern Ohio. That passion helped spawn his foray into the political arena. He was committed to his constituents and championed their causes, be it in Columbus or in Washington.

The affable Democrat was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1996, and served four two-year terms there before winning a spot in the Ohio Senate in 2004.

His likability was affirmed in 2006 when he announced he would run for the 6th Congressional District seat being vacated by governor-elect Ted Strickland.

As fate would have it, Wilson’s filing in the race that year was rejected by election officials after he did not submit enough valid petition signatures. Thus, he failed to make the Democratic primary ballot.

To his credit, the Dillonvale native mounted a successful write-in candidate for the Democratic nomination. He gained 67 percent of the vote, a remarkable balloting achievement, en route to winning a seat in Congress.

His 2006 Congressional win was followed by re-election two years later. However, his political career came to an end in 2010 and 2012 at the hands of Bill Johnson, the second loss being a closely contested affair.

Wilson remained active and visible until the time of his stroke. Another run at political office was likely.

Although his political career lasted just a dozen years, Wilson left behind a legacy of unwavering passion for his constituents and doing it in honorable fashion.