LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Quotes from various residents and officials in East Texas, the state and nation, on Charlie Wilson:
Dan Rather: "It is the rare congressman who by dint of personality, persistence and country smarts did something that literally altered history on the global stage. What Charlie Wilson did in Afghanistan changed the course of world events. Charlie Wilson was all Texan and all American. He dreamed big, lived large. He was a member of the pantheon of Texas heroes from Sam Houston, to Jim Bowie."
Joanne Herring: "God bless everyone in Lufkin. I know they're proud of Charlie and have helped form him because that's the kind of people they are. I know they feel his loss."
Buddy Temple: "I never saw anybody who had a greater attachment to the people here in East Texas as Charlie did."
Former U.S. Congressman Jim Turner: "He was one of those that was a true patriot. When he retired, he helped me in the election to take over his seat. I really feel his partying style overshadowed the work he did in Congress."
Charles Wilson VA Director Anthony Zullo: "Charlie loved this nation and had deep respect and gratitude for the men and women who defended her; he was a force for veterans his entire career. Throughout his life, this was evident in his thoughts, words, and deeds. The VA is a richer organization because of Mr. Wilson. He will be deeply missed."
Sen. John Cornyn: "I am saddened to hear of Congressman Wilson's passing. He was a lifetime public servant with a fiery passion for the people of East Texas, our men and women in uniform, our veterans and our freedoms. I have had the great privilege to work alongside him on several issues of importance to our veterans in Texas, and I will miss his leadership and dedication. My wife and I send our deepest condolences to Barbara as she and her loved ones mourn the loss of this remarkable individual."
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: "Charlie was a friend and colleague of mine. I was a news reporter covering the Legislature when Charlie was a State Senator and then I served with him in Congress. We worked together on the ERINT (now PAC 3) missile project for his district. Because of his absolute devotion to our nation's veterans, we named the VA clinic in Lufkin in his honor. Charlie Wilson was one of a kind-- loved by all who knew him, and he will be missed as one of our most distinguished and colorful leaders. He was a giant, not just in stature but in his love for America and especially America's men and women in uniform. He was a dynamic presence in Congress and on the national stage, but he always called Lufkin home."
Congressman Louie Gohmert: "Charlie Wilson was proof of what one man can do when he is determined. As a result, the world is a different place because of Charlie. He was a man of purpose, who obviously enjoyed life. Among his greatest loves, he loved this country, he loved veterans, he loved east Texas, and, of course, Barbara who brought him such strength, comfort and stability these last several years. Because of his infectious sense of humor, it was tough to be around Charlie without smiling. East Texans have shared with me that, sure, they knew Charlie had personal issues, but he was always honest about them. We will miss that kind of candor. He was even gracious enough to share the insights from his vast experience with a Republican like me any time I asked. As an east Texas icon and friend, he will be sorely missed. Our sympathy and prayers go out to Barbara and his family."
Tina Alexander Sellers, KTRE-TV: "I was a reporter and anchor when Charles Wilson served in Congress. He would leave Washington and come for a visit to his home district, and, of course, I'd want an interview. On one of those visits, after a rough week in Washington, he was home to his sanctuary and I wanted an interview. He made the comment that I was becoming as 'pesky as the Washington press Corp.' I told him thank you and we went on with the interview. First, talking about his latest alleged escapades and then moving on to more serious topics like, 'What was he doing to help out-of-work local residents, economic development, healthcare' and so on. He never gave me a 'No comment.' Whenever I interviewed Charlie Wilson, I didn't see 'Good Times Charlie,' I saw a champion for senior citizens, veterans and for his beloved East Texas. He wasn't perfect. Who is? That's the Charlie Wilson I knew."
Joe Murray, former publisher Lufkin Daily News: "When he had concluded his career in Washington, Charlie could have gone anywhere in the world. Instead, he chose to return to Lufkin to live out his life with his wonderful wife Barbara here among the homefolks. For the rest of the world, he is the tall man on the big screen, portrayed by Tom Hanks as Good-Time Charlie, the Congressman from East Texas who helped run the Red Army out of Afghanistan. For us, he's the guy we'd run into at the grocery store, coffee shop or cafe, our good friend Charlie who was "taking care of the homefolks" during all those years in Congress, helping untold thousands of everyday people in every way he could. In the book and movie, it's a war that's named for Charlie Wilson. In Lufkin, it's the veterans clinic."