Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, a hard-partying Democrat who played a key role in the United States’ covert war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, has died. He was 76.
Wilson was taken to Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin after he started having difficulty breathing while attending a meeting in the eastern Texas town where he lived, said hospital spokeswoman Yana Ogletree.
Wilson, who had a heart transplant in 2007 in Houston, was pronounced dead on arrival, and the preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest, Ogletree said. Houston doctors had told Wilson, who suffered from cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes an enlarged and weakened heart, that he would likely die without a transplant.
“Charlie was perfect as a congressman, perfect as a state representative, perfect as a state senator. He was a perfect reflection of the people he represented. If there was anything wrong with Charlie, I never did know what it was,” said Charles Schnabel Jr., who served for seven years as Wilson’s chief of staff in Washington and worked with Wilson when he served in the Texas Senate.