Remembering Louisville business icon Charlie Wilson
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - An appliance store trailblazer, well-known in the Louisville-area, died on July 19 at the age of 96.
It’s hard to find someone with anything but great things to say about Charlie Wilson.
“Charlie Wilson was an extraordinary man,” friend David Grantz said. “Charlie will be dearly missed.”
Wilson started his appliances storefront in 1953. It was the idea of nice cars and fancy clothes that got him into business, but it’s people that kept him there.
He was also a veteran of World War II who served in the U.S. Navy.
After a couple moves, the store landed on Market Street in downtown Louisville before moving to Clarksville.
From some of the first commercially available TV sets, to the invention of the microwave oven, Wilson’s seen it all.
Some people will tell you he introduced satellite TV to the Midwest when DirecTV visited his store in 1993.
Friends and family said he’s always been true to himself and his community.
“If he didn’t make a dollar on that particular sale, it wasn’t a big deal to him,” Grantz said, “because he knew the greater good of his charitable actions in our community.”
Wilson’s son David calls his dad’s business approach the “Charlie Wilson experience”: Treat people like family or friends, be interested in them and build a relationship.
David said Tuesday, “We are comforted to know though there’s one less person on Earth, there’s one more in heaven... I loved my dad and will always miss him dearly!”
Those who knew Wilson personally and professionally say the “Charlie Wilson experience” won’t soon be forgotten.
“I hope there are more like Charlie Wilson,” said WAVE Listens Live host John Ramsey, who’s worked with and around Wilson for years, “because the way he does business never goes out of style. It’s in our DNA [to] recognize authenticity, and Charlie was as authentic as they come.”
Wilson is survived by his three children, Krystal McCulloch, Steve Wilson (Dianne) and David Wilson (Debbie), his seven grandchildren, Michelle Kepley (Bruce), Michael McCulloch (Amy), Amanda McMonigle (Justin), Adrienne Champine (Leon), Isaiah Wilson, Hannah Creek (Anthony), Leah Rainbolt (Derek) and ten great-grandchildren. Charlie was preceded in death by his devoted wife of 67 years, Wilma Wilson.
Below is David Wilson’s full statement to WAVE News:
“For me to somewhat sum up my dad is... he was somewhat a reflection of the church in that he would “comfort the disturbed but disturb the comfortable”. I remember in 1984 when he and I were meeting with some appliance executives at Greenleaf resort in Florida I had made several good points regarding our deals/expectations and on the walk back to the room he said “I’m really proud of you David”, however he was fine with correcting me on my English if/when improper. Comfort/disturb. Whether it was family, employees or whoever he wanted you to be your best. Yesterday one of the visitors at the visitation was a former employee that said he would remember watching Dad sit in his chair and be looking at the newspaper, but all the while he was listening to what conversation was going on and if he felt led to intercede and comment on the discussion going on, he would, to the surprise of those talking. He loved people and loved meeting them and finding out about their families: where they lived, where they worked, their hobbies. He would say, ‘make people feel important because you know what they are!’ I sometimes refer to it as the “Charlie Wilson experience” to treat people like family/friends, to be interested in them and build a relationship. We are comforted to know though there’s one less person on earth there’s one more in heaven and we know he is with Jesus, I loved my dad and will always miss him dearly!!”
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