Final respects paid to Wilson

BROOKSIDE – Friends, family and neighbors turned out Sunday for the funeral vigil for former Rep. Charles Wilson, and they remembered him as a man who showed joy and care while serving his community.

Wilson passed away April 14 in Florida due to complications from a stroke he suffered while visiting Disney World with his family in late February. Sunday’s vigil took place in the gymnasium at Bridgeport High School.

Among those attending was Christopher Gagin, who served as Wilson’s district director when Wilson was a member of Congress.

“He was a man who truly cared about the Ohio Valley,” Gagin said. “He never forgot where he came from – Dillonvale and the Ohio Valley. In his latter years, he faced a lot of tough political battles, but he never lost sight of his friends and neighbors. I hope that will be his legacy.”

John Payne also worked for Wilson as his adviser on military and veterans affairs.

“I’m saddened by his death,” Payne said. “I will remember him as being a humble person who was always thinking of other people, and always looking out for his district. He was also a friend.”

Wilson, a Democrat, served in the House from January 2007 through December 2010. Prior to this, he was a member of the Ohio General Assembly, and was first elected to the Ohio House in 1996.

Frankie Lee Carnes – chairwoman of the Belmont County board of elections and wife of former Ohio Sen. Jim Carnes – said she remembered watching Wilson be sworn in to his first elected office at the Ohio Statehouse.

“His facial expression that day showed such joy,” she said. “He truly loved what he was doing. He just beamed. So many politicians are so blase when they are sworn into office. But he was truly excited to be there.”

Sue Douglass, executive director of the Belmont County Department of Development, said she was saddened by Wilson’s death.

“I’ve known Charlie forever,” she said. “Our families have been connected for a very long time.”

Robert Dodrill of Bellaire said he also had known Wilson for many years.

“I love him dearly – it’s a great family,” he said. “I just can’t believe he is gone.”