By Joel Hall
Charles Sorrow, a key figure in Morrow politics for the past three decades, died Sunday, after losing a battle with Parkinson's disease.
Sorrow, who vacated a seat on the Morrow City Council late last year, due to health complications, passed away at the age of 79.
According to Morrow Mayor Jim Millirons, Sorrow served for 17 years as a member of the city council, and for approximately 14 years as a member of the city's planning and zoning board.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 2 p.m., at First Baptist Church of Morrow, located at 1647 Lake Harbin Road, in Morrow.
Born on July 10, 1931, Sorrow was a native of Union Point, Ga., in Greene County. According to Dorothy Sorrow, his wife of 57 years, Charles moved to Macon in his early twenties, where he worked as a shipping clerk for a local department store. Dorothy, who met Charles as she was finishing high school, said their plans to marry were delayed by the Korean War.
"We were crazy in love," said Mrs. Sorrow. "We couldn't make any plans because he was going to be drafted. We knew it was coming. He wanted to do for his country."
According to Dorothy Sorrow, Charles was discharged in 1954, after a year and 11 months in the U.S. Army, narrowly avoiding shipment to the front lines, following the Korean War armistice agreement. Shortly before he was discharged from the service, the two were married at Fort Lee, Virginia, she said.
Following his time in the service, Sorrow landed a job at Robins Air Force Base, near Macon, programming computers for the military. In the early 1960s, the couple moved to Morrow, where he would do the same work for Delta Air Lines for the next 30 years.
Soon after arriving in Morrow, Sorrow became actively involved with First Baptist Church of Morrow. Dewey "Buck" Shirley, a former neighbor of Sorrow's, who attended church with him from the 1960s onward, said Sorrow was "involved in everything the church did."
"He was one of the leaders of the church in his younger days," Shirley said. "He never sang in the choir. He was just a good layman. He would do anything anybody asked him to do," he said. "He would help in any way he could, and if he couldn't get it done, he would get somebody else in the church to do it ... he was a good Christian man."
In the mid 1970s, Sorrow began applying his willingness to help, to the needs of the city government. According to Millirons, Sorrow began working for the city's planning and zoning board in 1975, where he played a key role in shaping the modern-day business landscape of Morrow. In the early 1980s, Millirons said, Sorrow was elected to the city council, where he served until his health declined last year.
"He's always been a conscientious contributor to the betterment of Morrow," Millirons said. "Charles was a leader in the truest sense. He was a quiet, humble person, who was never short on ideas. He was very active in the Jester's Creek Trail project.
"On the planning and zoning commission, he was always addressing what was best for the city, what businesses should be in the city, and where they should be located," said Millirons. "He was a political warrior in looking out for the community."
Councilman Mason Barfield, who has served on the council for four-and-a-half years, described Sorrow as "the epitome of a stately gentleman."
"His conversations were always proper and in the right tone, and I always appreciated that, with the environment that we are in, because there are often disagreements," Barfield said. "He was a person I always looked up to, as a young member of the board. You could tell that he was a listener. When you thought that he might not be listening, he could always come back with a comment that let you know that he knew it a lot better than you did," continued Barfield. "He was a great contributor to the success of the City of Morrow."
Bob Huie, a member of the city council for 15 years, said that several years earlier, the city named a park on Patricia Drive, in Morrow, in Sorrow's honor. He said Sorrow stayed committed to the city, as long as his body was able.
"He was ethical and honest," Huie said. "He always wanted to do the right thing. He always liked the city and he liked the people.
"He always said he lived in the best city in the United States, and that is how he felt truthfully," said Huie. "Everything he did as a councilman, he did it for the betterment of the city."
Councilman John Lampl, who was elected to fill Sorrow's unfinished term on the council in March, described Sorrow as a "gentleman," who was good at making people feel important.
"He's one of those guys who makes a point of getting to know you," Lampl said. "He's quiet, but when he talked to you, he let you know that you were part of a team. He wanted to make sure that everybody knew they were valuable, and that included the city, his family, [and] his church," Lampl said.
"He would always look at you and say, 'You're the best in the state, we're happy to have you.' I think that could be said about him as well."