Columbus Councilor Charles E. "Red" McDaniel was remembered as a man of uncompromising ethics, unimpeachable integrity and unbridled respect and compassion for others during Friday afternoon’s funeral service at First Baptist Church.
Mayors, judges, political leaders of all stripes, city employees, friends and family paid respects to the longtime councilor.
McDaniel, 83, died Monday at St. Francis Hospital after a monthlong illness.
McDaniel’s good friend and pastor, Jimmy Elder of First Baptist Church, captured the spirit of a career politician who never faced “even the hint of scandal.”
“Red McDaniel got it right,” Elder said. “He really got it right. He got public service right in a way few ever understand, much less practice. He knew how to serve people, putting them in front of everything else. ... He lived to serve.”
Elder recounted conversations he has had with people since McDaniel became ill more than a month ago.
“Time after time and memory after memory, it became clear Red was truly a public servant, never forgetting he was there to represent the people,” Elder said. “That is why he was re-elected so many times.”
Through his tenure that had an eight-year break from 1974-1982, McDaniel dealt with consolidation, economic and racial issues.
“And he was almost always on the right side of the argument,” Elder said.
In his 38 years on Columbus Council, McDaniel served with 10 different mayors. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and former mayors Jim Wetherington, Bobby Peters and Bob Hydrick sat the front of the church as Elder eulogized McDaniel. The only living mayor not in attendance was Bob Poydasheff, who was out of town.
Others at the service included the nine sitting councilors, many former councilors and Congressman Sanford Bishop. Almost all of the city department heads and many current and former city employees attended the service.
“It seemed like everyone I had ever known in public service was in there,” said former Councilor Jack Basset, who served with McDaniel in the early 1970s. “Red would have loved that.”
While Elder recalled McDaniel’s political accomplishments, he also praised him as a husband, father and grandfather.
McDaniel met his wife, Jo, while they in college at Mercer University in Macon.
“They had a wonderful love affair for 57 years,” Elder said. “You talk about inspiring. Being married for 57 years and maintaining love and relationship they did is an inspiration. ... They loved each other with the kind of love God expects.”
Elder remembered what McDaniel would say to him about his wife.
“He often said, ‘That Jo is a good woman,’ which is about as affectionate as Red got,” Elder said.
McDaniel was proud of his two sons, Chuck and Scott, Elder said. Chuck works at Aflac and Scott, an EMT with the city, died in 1998.
McDaniel was buried at Parkhill Cemetery in a private interment attended by family and members of council. He was buried next to his son, Scott.