Wilson was old-time politician

Some thoughts on the past week:

I was saddened to learn last Sunday night that Charlie Wilson had died.

Wilson had continued a long family tradition of providing service to area residents – through his businesses, which included furniture and funerals, and as a politician.

He represented Eastern Ohio in the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate before being elected to the U.S. House in 2006, a post he held until he was defeated by current U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, in 2010.

A Democrat, Wilson was an old-time politician from the standpoint that he was able to separate political relationships from personal relationships.

While he did not always agree with your opinions, he respected them. He enjoyed a good discussion, and, when it was over, he was willing to shake your hand and agree to disagree.

That, in many ways, separated him from a growing number of politicians, who take disagreements as personal affronts and not as steps in the art of governing, where the views of many sides of a particular issue should be thoughtfully debated before a consensus is reached.

Our newspaper did not always agree with Wilson’s political stands, and that is well documented on our pages. But that never really affected the way Wilson reacted toward us.

I remember a time about one year ago when I was at dinner with a group of friends at Wheeling Island Casino. When we walked in, a member of our party saw Wilson sitting at another table and went over to say hello while our group was seated in another section of the restaurant.

At the end of the evening, Wilson came by our table and warmly greeted each of us, asking for details about our personal lives and sharing memories with former Community Editor Marian Houser, who was dining with us, of the “good old days,” when funeral directors would have to phone obituaries into the newspaper office, where someone would have to record all the information by hand and then prepare it for publication.

He then excused himself and wished us well.

That was a trait that Johnson, who defeated Wilson again last fall to win re-election, referred to in a statement he released after learning of Wilson’s death.

“Although Charlie and I were political opponents, we were never enemies,” Johnson said.

That’s a lesson that many of today’s politicians should take to heart.

Monday happened to be April 15, Tax Day, but many in our newsroom agreed that things seemed to be a little different this year.

Missing were the annual stories and photos of harried last-minute filers making their way to the post office just before midnight to ensure their returns would be filed on time.

There were a couple of factors at work, I’m sure. First, the number of people who file returns electronically continues to grow, and second, the number of post offices that still offer the midnight postmarks has continued to shrink.

It’s just another way technology is changing the way we live our lives.

This space next week will be turned over to a familiar face who has recently returned to the newspaper.

Paul Giannamore, who has rejoined our staff, will reintroduce himself to our readers, write about how he’s been keeping busy during the past 18 months or so, discuss one of his latest assignments – as a blogger for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times – and offer a quick look at how social media is transforming the way consumers access the media.

It promises to be an interesting read.

Be here.


(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)