orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Legacy

November 30, 2007

Charles T. Wickersham

Charles T. Wickersham, a businessman who influenced the commercial and economic development of Southeast Texas for a half century, died Sunday, November 25, 2007, at a Houston hospital. The longtime resident of Orange, Texas most recently lived on Pleasure Island in Port Arthur. He was 79.

Wickersham, as president of the Sabine River Authority Board of Directors, worked on legislation and financing to build the Toledo Bend Reservoir and Dam. For nearly 40 years, he owned Wickersham Ford, Inc., in Orange. He was once featured in Time Magazine as one of the top 10 automobile dealers in the nation.

In addition, he was a former owner of Northway Shopping Center and helped develop the Sixteenth Street commercial corridor in Orange. More recently, he negotiated the first two deals under the City of Orange Economic Development Corporation to bring new industries to the city. He was working on a Port Arthur development at the time of his death.

Also, he and his business partners for years owned and operated a large industrial venture at the Port of Houston.

“He was a legend in his own time,” said Lester “Buckshot” Winfree, a former business partner and president of the Orange County Navigation and Port District.

“He had a brilliant mind, and he loved Orange and he loved Southeast Texas,” said Orange Mayor Brown Claybar.

“Charlie was more than just a friend, he was my mentor,” said former Port Arthur Mayor Oscar Ortiz. “I know of no other citizen who gave so much to his community and asked for so little in return.”

Mr. Wickersham was also a doting, though sometimes strict, father and grandfather, who took his children and grandchildren on trips and encouraged them in their education and endeavors. He was proud of their accomplishments.

He was known to everyone, including his grandchildren, as “Charlie.” He traveled around the world and made friends from all walks of life, including politicians, business leaders, and celebrities.

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