Congressman Charlie Norwood passes away

February 13, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Congressman Charlie Norwood passed away this morning at his Augusta home. He was 65.

Funeral Information

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
5:00-7:30pm: Public Visitation
Poteet and Son Funeral Home, Davis Road, Martinez

Thursday, February 15, 2007
2:00 pm Public Memorial Service
First Baptist Church of Augusta, Walton Way Extension

Remembering Charlie Norwood

by Tom Campbell, with Lynnsey Gardner and Stephanie Baker

Charles Whitlow Norwood, Jr. first arrived in the Augusta area as a young Army dentist in 1969.

He was born in Valdosta in 1941, and graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1964. Then he went to dental school, and Capt. Norwood served in Vietnam before arriving at Fort Gordon.

For the rest of his life, he was a strong backer of the military and national security.

On News 12 Midday in 2006, he talked about the US-Mexico border.

"Do you want to secure the border or not?" he said. "Do you want to do it five years from now? Four years from now? And let 4 million more illegal aliens come into the country?"

When Fort Gordon was saved from the base closings of 2005, Congressman Norwood invited News 12 into his office to get the word firsthand.

"You know, you knock on every door, make sure your forts and camps stay in place," he said. "I'm thrilled. For one thing we can go on and do some other things too."

He'd been elected to Congress in 1994 in what became known as the Republican Revolution, promising reforms and a Contract with America.

He was a key advocate of health care reform.

Perhaps little did he know that his own health would play a major role in his life.

In 2004 he received a right lung transplant because of a chronic disease. An oxygen tank and a scooter became his constant companions on Capitol Hill.

"You know I didn't get home for a long time, but I've been home three times in a couple of months," he told us then. "Georgia air will cure about anything."

Later he had a small malignant tumor removed from his left lung.

Then in 2006, chemotherapy began for cancer near his liver.

But he kept fighting. Here his take on the minimum wage.

"If someone goes in and proves their worth, the employer doesn't want to lose them, and they're going to give them a raise," he said. "If you raise this thing, you could very well put people out of work."

He was sworn in on January 4, 2007 for his seventh term. But his continuing chemotherapy forced him to miss many of the early votes in the new session.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush wished him well.

Then in early February, he announced he was refusing more hospital treatment in Washington, and returned home to Augusta for hospice care.

A day before his death, Columbia County commissioners honored Congressman Norwood. The area in front of the county Justice Center is now known as Norwood Freedom Plaza, and the road right off Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans is now Norwood Drive.

Norwood lived and worked in the county for many years before moving to Augusta.

Charlie Norwood remained a popular political figure in this area. Despite his medical problems, the voters kept sending him back to Washington.

In the end, he served his country long and well and died on his own terms.

This has been a very difficult and emotional day for everyone who knew and worked with Norwood. News 12 sat down with former congressman Doug Barnard.

He says he and Norwood met at church and have known each other for 20 years.

Barnard visited Norwood at his home last week and says he's deeply grieving the loss, and his heart goes out to the wife and family.

Barnard says Norwood always aspired to serve the people, and they shared conservative values on Capitol Hill.

"He will be greatly missed, and his service to the county will be missed," Barnard said. "He was a very energetic and hardworking member of Congress and stood up to his convictions."

News 12 also spoke to Norwood's fellow Republican and close friend David Barbee, chair of Augusta's Republican Party. Barbee said he was deeply saddened to hear Rep. Norwood had lost his battle with cancer.

Barbee says his friend was a fighter to the end. He last saw Norwood two weeks ago in Washington, and recalls Norwood was in good spirits and hopeful about his upcoming surgery.

Barbee says he too still held out hope for a miracle, but as we know that miracle never came.

Barbee says Norwood was not only his congressman but also his mentor and a good friend. The two had worked together for twelve years, and during that time Barbee says Norwood was a man who worked tirelessly for the people of the 10th District.

"He didn't have but one speed, and that was full speed ahead," Barbee said. "He was a champion for the people of this state and I'm just so blessed and fortunate for Charlie Norwood to be in my life."

Barbee added that we will have to look long and hard to find another Charlie Norwood...and whoever is elected has huge shoes to fill.

We also sat down with Norwood's pastor and friend Dr. Steven Dodson, who told us about the last conversation he had with Norwood.

"He was very peaceful. Very understanding about the process that he was going through, and expressed appreciation for everyone you could imagine, and expressed concern and love for his family."

Dr. Dodson spent time with the Norwood family Tuesday night at their home and says they are doing as well as can be expected.

Congressman Norwood had just been reelected for his seventh term representing the 10th District.

The governor must now call for a special election to fulfill the rest of his term. The governor has ten days to do that, and then at least 30 days must elapse before the election takes place.

State Senator Ralph Hudges of Hull, outside Athens, has already said he will resign from the State Senate and run for the seat.

Because there is no limit on the number of candidates who can run, it is likely to be a crowded field.

Funeral services for Congressman Norwood will be held at 2 o'clock on Thursday, February 15, at First Baptist Church of Augusta.

Official Obituary

U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood, DDS, 1941-2007

Official obituary from the 10th Congressional District office

Thoughts from Norwood's Colleagues

Click each link below to read statements by Congressman Norwood's colleagues:

Statement from Governor Perdue

Chambliss mourns loss of friend, colleague, and Georgian

Mayor Copenhaver declares day of mourning

Georgia dentists mourn loss of Congressman Norwood

American Dental Association statement on Norwood

Brig.Gen. Randy Strong's comments

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