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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Uncle Henry Colton

Posted September 1, 2011

I wish you could have met my Uncle Henry. He died this week and it really hit me hard. Actually he wasn’t really my uncle. He was my godfather. But our family loved him so much we claimed him.

Henry E. Colton was a hero in many respects. He was a Navy pilot who flew missions against the Germans in World War II. Uncle Henry lost his brother John, an Air Force pilot who was shot down in Germany in 1944. He never looked on war the same after that.

Uncle Henry was also a hero in the classroom. He graduated from Yale with a degree in industrial engineering. He went on to get a law degree at UNC. Later he went into the insurance business. After a few years in Morganton he moved his family to Asheville and became a highly successful businessman.

Uncle Henry was also a sports hero. He could whip just about anyone on the tennis court.

Uncle Henry was also a political hero serving several terms on the Asheville City Council. He was also his wife’s biggest cheerleader supporting Marie Colton’s 16 year legislative career. Marie (pronounced MAIR-eee) became the first female Speaker Pro Tem of the NC State House.

Henry Colton was a strong hospice advocate and volunteer. He was a member of the Friendship Force. He was a lifelong Episcopalian and I am sure he has a secure spot in heaven.

I didn’t need any of that heroic stuff to love Uncle Henry. I loved him because he took his responsibility as my godfather seriously. He always remembered my birthday with a phone call. At Christmas he would always send me a whimsical gift and a witty homemade card. He would check in with me when he traveled to Raleigh and invite me out to lunch or dinner. He took time to show his love. He even scolded me a few times when I needed it. I loved him dearly and I will miss him.

12 Comments

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  • tennispro Sep 2, 2011

    am so sorry for your loss Bill. I am glad you have wonderful memories of him and felt his love.

  • moppie Sep 2, 2011

    Sweet words for and from a sweet man. Some of us are truly bless with amazing godparents. I have my Pappa Pete and Missy. My Pappa Pete was the greatest, and Missy is still my guiding light now that both of my parents have passed. How blessed we are to have them!

  • SoFarFromHome Sep 1, 2011

    Uncle Henry was my Great Uncle. His wife was my Grandfather's (Dr. John Watters) sister. What two great men they were. Small world - I didn't know you were his godson!! May he rest in peace.

  • Celt Sep 1, 2011

    Godspeed, Uncle Henry, until we meet again.

  • dharper22 Sep 1, 2011

    Amen to FlyfishNC's comment! Sorry, Bill. I'm glad I've had the privilege of knowing you and working with you.

  • bleslie Sep 1, 2011

    Thank you for your kind thoughts and warm words. They mean a great deal.

  • flyfishNC Sep 1, 2011

    Bill Leslie, although I've never met you, there should be more of you in this world.

  • thefensk Sep 1, 2011

    Awwww, what a touching tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • pulstar40 Sep 1, 2011

    My condolences to you on the loss of a special man in your life. Today would have been my father's 85th birthday, and even though he passed 15 years ago, I still miss him. It was nice for you to pay tribute to him, and in doing so help the rest of us remember those who we too have lost.

  • genegeneandnancy Sep 1, 2011

    So very sorry for your loss...sounds as if Uncle Henry was a special man in your life..cherish the memories.

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