Charles Redd, a former member of City Council who worked to advance civil rights for decades in Fort Wayne, died Sunday night.
Redd came to Fort Wayne more than 40 years ago and led the Fort Wayne Urban League as its executive director in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He also was on the board of the Metropolitan Human Relations Council from 1982-1989 and returned as the board's chairman in 1997 and 1998. He also had served on the Fort Wayne Housing Authority.
According to current City Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, Redd was an original member of the Headwaters Park Commission from the 1980s and a member of the Headwaters Park Alliance until his death.
Redd, who was a Democrat, represented the 1st District on Fort Wayne City Council from 1984 to 1992.
“Charles really had a way about him,” said former council member Mark GiaQuinta, who served with Redd on Council. “He wasn't somebody you forgot. He was absolutely charming – and he had a smile that you could never forget.”
“He had so much commitment and passion for helping people who needed the help,” remembered Karen Goldner, a fellow Democrat and a former member of Fort Wayne City Council. “The core of his beliefs was just so solid. He was very committed to people being treated fairly.”
Fort Wayne City Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th, said that despite Redd's strong feelings, he was able to hold his focus on long-term goals.
“He was a political strategist,” said Hines. “As I view it, he was one who would say, 'Let's get people registered. Let's get organized. Let's have a Plan A, a Plan B. … Even after he came off City Council, he was very active in the African-American community.”
Goldner met Redd through politics, but she came to know him through spending time with him at the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne, where both were members. During her time on council – she served one term, beginning in 2008 – Redd counseled her often. That included the day after she was defeated in her bid for re-election in 2011, as Redd had been in 1991.
The day after he lost the election, he told her he was out mowing the lawn.
“It was his way of saying 'life goes on.' It does. That's a good way to look at it,” Goldner said.
Arrangements are pending at Ellis Funeral Home, 1021 E. Lewis St.