- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rep. Charlie Norwood, who served in Congress a dozen years, died yesterday in his Augusta, Ga., home after a long battle with lung disease and cancer. He was 65.

The Georgia Republican, a dentist elected in the Republican wave in 1994, was known as a champion for health care during his tenure.

“This man never lost his zeal [and] his purpose for being here never diminished once,” said Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “He was a great man who came here for the right reasons.”

The House interrupted Iraq debate for a moment of silence in honor of Mr. Norwood, who fought idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis for eight years.

In 2004, he received a lung transplant, and later developed lung cancer, a common side effect of drugs prescribed for the transplant.

Shortly after he won re-election in November, Mr. Norwood learned the cancer had metastasized in his liver. His office announced last week he was declining treatment and would instead receive hospice care at home.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, praised him as a “plain-spoken and passionate public servant” who “faced the end of his life and his sickness with great bravery and dignity.”

Mr. Norwood is survived by his wife, Gloria, two sons and four grandchildren. Services have not been scheduled.

A staunch conservative, Mr. Norwood spent much of his career pushing for a so-called “Patient’s Bill of Rights” and wrote a measure fully funding health care for military retirees.

Mr. Norwood volunteered for the U.S. Army and served a combat tour as a dentist in the Vietnam War in 1968, earning two Bronze Stars.

Mr. Norwood’s colleagues remembered him yesterday as a determined fighter, even willing to take on his own party. He was a critic of “comprehensive” immigration plans, calling Republicans who supported that bill’s path to citizenship “turncoats.”

“Charlie never stopped. He didn’t know the word defeat,” Mr. Boehner said.

Republican Conference Chairman Adam H. Putnam of Florida said Mr. Norwood “always had a twinkle in his eye and he never backed down.”

Democratic leaders learned of the news during a press conference.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, was at the podium when he was handed a note informing him of Mr. Norwood’s death.

“We, uh, just got, uh, a note, so why don’t we just take one more question. We just got a note about Charlie Norwood,” Mr. Emanuel stuttered to reporters. “He’s passed away.”

Democratic Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina said he regularly shared plane rides with Mr. Norwood and got to know him well, despite being political opposites.

“Charlie and I often talked about politics, and we always smiled about how often we canceled each other out,” he said.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, will set a date for a special election to replace Mr. Norwood in the 9th Congressional District. Mr. Perdue has 10 days to choose the date, which most believe will fall in June.

c Jon Ward contributed to this report, which is based in part on wire services.

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