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Sen. Charles J. Colgan dies

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Charles J. Colgan, who represented Prince William County in the Virginia Senate for decades, died Jan. 3 at a hospice center in Aldie at the age of 90.

He was elected to the senate in 1975 and represented the fast-growing areas of Manassas and Manassas Park until his retirement in 2015. He was considered a moderate Democrat, but as a Catholic he opposed abortion rights.

“The death of Sen. Charles J. Colgan can and should prompt a moment of reflection on and gratitude for the long life of a man who demonstrated both the courage of his convictions and a resilient commitment to public service,” said Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge in a statement released Jan. 4.

“While I did not have the privilege of working with him, I have quickly discovered in the reputation of Sen. Colgan the outlines of a gracious man who possessed a deep understanding of human dignity and its foundational significance to public service,” the bishop said. “His faith, convictions and service will undoubtedly leave a mark for decades to come. May the way in which he brought faith to the public square inspire others to step forward in faithful service at all levels of government.”    

Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, said Colgan's support for the mission of the conference and the full spectrum of issues for which it advocates was exemplary, with a consistency that stood alone.

“He did not like to draw attention to himself and was not prone to making long floor speeches,” Caruso said. “He always let his example and his actions speak for themselves. The word humility comes readily to mind when thinking of him.”

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of my friend Chuck Colgan, and I extend my condolences to his family,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. “Throughout his career as a businessman and public servant, Chuck set an inspiring example of how we should do all that we can to serve our community. There are few Virginians who have contributed as much to the Commonwealth as he did.”

Colgan was born in Frostburg, Md., Sept. 25, 1926. He joined the U.S. Army Air Forces at the end of World War II and served in Italy as an airplane mechanic. He later became a pilot and was founder of Colgan Air, a regional commuter airline in Manassas.

His wife of 52 years, Agnes Footen, died in 2001. He is survived by his wife of eight years, Carmen Alicia Bernal, and eight children from his first marriage, 24 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be offered Jan. 10 at 10:30 a.m. by Father Robert C. Cilinski at All Saints Church in Manassas. Father David L. Martin, pastor of St. Luke Church in McLean, will be the homilist.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017