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Former U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson Dies at 70

NFDA extends its sympathies to the family of Rep. Charlie Wilson of Ohio. Charlie was a funeral director and during his time in Congress, he was a friend to funeral service and NFDA, helping advance legislation that benefited the profession, small business and the families you serve. May he rest in peace.

by Edward J. Defort

Charles A. "Charlie" Wilson, the funeral director from Brookside, Ohio, who went on to serve two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives died April 14 at Bethesda Memorial Hospital of complications from a stroke he suffered several weeks ago. He was 70.

"As the only funeral director member of Congress during the time he served, Charlie was a strong supporter of funeral service issues and served as the 'go to' guy on funeral service issues for his Congressional colleagues," said John Fitch, senior vice president of advocacy for the National Funeral Directors Association. "His insights and expertise were invaluable to NFDA in our efforts to gain support for our issues. He was also a good friend. We in the NFDA Advocacy Department will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Angela and his family."

Wilson was born in Martins Ferry on January 18, 1943, the son of the late Charles A. Wilson Sr. and Kathleen Foster Wilson. He graduated from Dillonvale High School Class of 1960 and continued his education at Ohio University Belmont and Athens earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. He graduated Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science 1967 and joined the Wilson Funeral and Furniture Co. as the 4th generation of the Wilson Family.

He served on Eastern Ohio Regional Hospital board for 25 years, Belmont Improvement Collation; Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce, Bridgeport Rotary, Belmont National Bank for 30 years.

He served as president of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association; and president of Ohio Home Furniture Dealers Association. In 1995 he pursued his career in public service, being elected to Ohio House of Representatives where he served as Minority Whip and Assistant Minority Leader.

Wilson was elected to Ohio Senate in 2004, in 2006 he sought election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 6th to fill the seat vacated by Ted Strikland, who became governor of Ohio. Wilson failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the state primary but still went on to be elected to United States Congress, with 66 percent of the vote as a "write in" candidate. While in Congress, Wilson served as regional whip for Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement this week on the passing Wilson: "Congressman Charlie Wilson was a proud son of Ohio, a champion for the people of his home state, and a powerful, passionate voice for the interests, hopes, and aspirations of America's working families. He was a small business owner who wanted to give back to his community through public service – and from the Ohio state legislature to the House of Representatives, he always used his office to invest in his constituents and support the men and women of southeast and east Ohio.

"Congressman Wilson served with dignity and dedication, with commitment and conviction, with an unyielding faith in the future of our country. It was an honor to serve with him as a colleague; it was a privilege to call him a friend. I hope it is a comfort to his four sons, his nine grandchildren, and the entire Wilson family that so many share in their grief at this sad time."

In a statement, Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said Wilson was "an outspoken advocate for working people, Charlie never wavered in his service to his constituents or his lifelong pursuit to help improve the lives of others."

Wilson is survived by Angela Hatfield; four sons, Robert "Bob" of Manchester, Tennessee, Brad of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Jason of Columbiana, Ohio, and Jarrett of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; a sister Rebecca (Clete) Schindler of Liberty Center, Ohio., seven granddaughters and two grandsons.

Friends will be received Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. at Bridgeport School District auditorium and also on Sunday April 21, from 4 to 8 p.m. with a vigil service at 4 p.m. Friends are then invited to attend visitation on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until time of funeral Liturgy with Mass at 10 a.m. of at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 226 W. Main St., St. Clairsville, Ohio, with Rev. Thomas Chillog as celebrant. Interment will be private at Cemetery, St. Clairsville.

Arrangements by Wilson Funeral Home, 920 National Road, Brookside, Ohio. Offer online condolences to the family at Memorial contributions can be made to the Congressman Charlie Wilson Leadership Program, c/o Ohio University Eastern, Dean's Office, 45425 National Road W., St. Clairsville, OH 43950.