Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Uncle Henry Colton

Posted September 1, 2011 12:44 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2011 1:09 p.m. EDT

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.