The first time I saw Charlie Norwood, he was in an expensive suit wandering around my small convenience store in Evans looking for my famous sausage dogs. I guess what I really noticed first was his huge green pick-up truck. He approached with a hearty hand-shake and warm, broad smile.
The visits became more regular. I met his boys and heard about his beautiful Gloria. I learned that he had purchased property on Mulliken Road in Evans to open a tree farm. He loved talking plants, family and politics. He could talk on any subject, and this country boy agreed with him on most all of his ideas.
One day he came by the store and said, "I'm selling my dental practice." "Wow, I had no idea that the tree farming business was so lucrative," I responded. He laughed. "No, you see, I've decided to run for Congress and I'm counting on your help." He did, and I did.
He loved people and it showed. He was passionate about helping all those he could. With his medical background, he was our champion for health care. He created the patients' bill of rights and struggled to reform our sickly health care system.
He was also adamant about the safety of our country, securing its borders and stopping this illegal alien invasion. He said to me, "You know I love our President George W, but on this subject, we are a mile apart."
He was also very concerned about the spending habits of our Republican Congress. He was consistent with his beliefs and values of less government and represented the people of the 10th District with those conservative ideals. He was such a stonewall on that subject that on occasion he would get out of favor with the majority leadership.
Nothing was more pleasurable to Norwood than to be in the district among his people. One day he stopped by my store and came in for a short visit while his staffers pumped gas. "How about a dog and a drink?" I said. " Nope, not today. Gloria put me on this new diet and your sausage dog was the first to go."
He loved politics. You could say he came into the game late, not having served first in a local or state office before hitting the big league in Washington. He didn't need the training.
We're going to miss him around Columbia County. He attended and supported our local events, from the hot Fourth of July barbecues in Grovetown, the cool October Oliver Hardy Festivals in Harlem to the feisty Saturday morning Republican Party breakfast meetings in Evans.
On Feb. 24, when the Republican Party gathers for our Mass Meeting to register delegates to elect the slate of officers to lead Columbia County's Republican Party for the next two years, he will be conspicuously absent, but you can be sure that he will be with others at the Throne in Glory. I do hope that he is not the only politician there.
We could call him congressman, we could call him doctor, but what he liked most was for folks to call him Charlie.
Charles Allen, Evans
(Charles Allen is chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party.)
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