Charlie Wilson had a stroke in February, while vacationing in Florida. Since then, he had been hospitalized there, and was trying to battle back.
"He was in rehab and progress was coming slow," said Gordie Longshaw, Wilson's longtime friend. "It would take a long time. Then the second stroke happened, and the blood clot last week. Unfortunately he didn't make it and as everyone knows, we've lost a great friend."
Longshaw says he and Charlie had a 50-year friendship.
Longshaw was a teacher, and he says Charlie would ask how things were going at school. He says if there was a student who couldn't afford a prom gown, Charlie would write a check, always anonymously.
"A young fellow at the age of 16 had a heart attack at school and died back in 2001," recalls Longshaw. "Charlie took care of the funeral arrangements and also the stone at the cemetery."
"Yeah, and I think that's something that a lot of people didn't recognize about him," says Mark Thomas, family friend. "It was just inherent in his nature to do good for people, but he didn't want it publicized."
Few people knew that Wilson had a much earlier stroke - at age 39 - and recovered fully.
When Gordie Longshaw suffered a stroke, he recalls Charlie coming back to the area and taking him to lunch, and telling him not to be afraid, that he was going to be fine.
"I'll never forget that lunch when he encouraged me that everything was going to be OK," said Longshaw. "What a friend!"
They say he was a successful businessman, that he didn't need to go into politics.
"I guess he was just on the side of the people and wanted to help them," said Allan Ketzell, a 40-year employee and longtime friend.
Ketzell says Wilson was always fair--to employees, clients and family members.
"Charlie really loved people," recalled Tom Zani of Bridgeport. "He really loved his community. And he was all heart."