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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
For decades, Charlie Dannelly has earned the reputation of being a bipartisan fence mender, and local bridge builder.
"The state is no better than least of its citizens," he said.
Dannelly's 30 years of elective office started back in 1977 .
The District Two democrat was the first city council representative who served under four Charlotte Mayors, and three North Carolina Governors.
Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt remembered his sense of dignity.
"Charlie Dannelly was a gentleman who brought a level of civility to the political discussions," Gantt said.
Eddie Knox is another former Charlotte Mayor who credits him as a gentle spirit.
Knox said, "Charlie is a quiet man, but he moves through with great force."
Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot recalls Dannelly serving at a very critical time.
"Charlie was part of an awful lot of big things in this city, but he's gone on to be a lot of big things in this state. He's really where the action was," Vinroot said.
By the 1990's, much of the action came in Raleigh, but these days the nine term state senator doesn't approve of the divisive tone or tenor echoing from the general assembly.
"Politicians put the needs of the party ahead of the people, " Dannelly said.
During Charlotte's first years of school integration, which could be volatile, Dannelly was cast in the spot light by being assigned to suburban Quail Hollow Jr. High, as its first African American principal.
"To me it was easy,"he said." Win kids. When you win kids, you win parents."
State Rep. Kelly Alexander Jr. remembers him as being highly principled.
"He has a core set of values, and he references those values as he makes a decision, and you have to respect that."
The soft spoken sage still takes pride the legislation he introduced that once brought Red Light cameras to Charlotte, and continues to beam over approving a new coliseum deal that gave the N-B-A Hornets a place to play.
The state senator said, "Anytime you see professional teams come into an area. A lot of jobs follow."
After being in office from old city hall to the government center that bears his name, the Bishopville, South Carolina native clings to one of life's early values.
"My parents always taught me. If you do good. You don't do it to be remembered for. You do good because it's the right to do," he said.