Photos by Kathy Strauss | ImageWerks, Lc
Senator Colgan is retiring after 40 years in the Virginia Senate preceded by four years on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. He is the longest serving Virginia Senator in the history of the Commonwealth. The Tribute “celebrated a leader who embodies service”. The year-long planning effort was led by three co-chairs: David Brickley, Mike Carlin and Jimmy Hazel.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe began the Tribute’s formal festivities by toasting Senator Colgan. This was followed by Hylton’s own Jennifer Decker singing a Colgan favorite, the official traditional state song, “Our Great Virginia”. Guests were then ushered into Merchant Hall for a poignant and humorous “Charles J. Colgan, Sr. – This is Your Life”. They were welcomed there by George Mason President Dr. Angel Cabrera.
Former Virginia Delegate Dave Brickley was the Master of Ceremonies and portrayed a modern-day Ralph Edwards, the host of the 1950’s TV show, “This is Your Life”. Several long-time family and business friends whom Colgan hadn’t seen in years were surprise guests. Numerous photos from family albums and news archives illustrated the Senator’s life on a large screen.
Nine of the 15 Honorary Chairs sat on stage and spoke as their turns came up in Colgan’s 40 year history as a State Senator. The dignitaries, in order of appearance, included Governor Charles S. Robb, Governor George F. Allen, Lt. Governor John H. Hager, Governor & US Senator Mark R. Warner, Governor & US Senator Timothy M. Kaine, Congressman Gerald E. Connolly, Governor Robert F. McDonnell, and current Lt. Governor Ralph S. Northam. A video-taped message from Governor Gerald L. Baliles was shown. Honorary Chairs Attorney General Mark R. Herring, Congressman Donald S. Beyer, Jr, Governor James S. Gilmore, Governor L. Douglas Wilder and Lt. Governor William T. Bolling were unable to participate. It was noted that never in the history of Virginia had so many dignitaries gathered to honor a retiring elected official, this giving measure to the immense respect and love held for their friend, Chuck Colgan.
The final portion of “This is Your Life” wrapped up with examples of the numerous accomplishments during Senator Colgan’s 40 years in Richmond. It was followed by Chuck Colgan humbly and quietly thanking his 700+ colleagues, family members and friends for giving him the opportunity to serve and for honoring him with such a tribute.
The evening ended with more than 30 Colgan grandchildren and great grandchildren joining him on stage and surrounding him with their love as Jennifer Decker sang “You Raise Me Up”. Ms. Decker was then joined by all in Merchant Hall in standing and singing “Happy Birthday” to Chuck Colgan who turned 89 on Friday. Colgan grandchildren wheeled a lighted birthday cake on stage. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.