Milton Councilman Charlie Fleetwood has resigned from the council due to health concerns.
Fleetwood, 71, officially resigned Sept. 21; his family made the resignation public following the dedication of the gazebo in Milton Memorial Park in his honor.
Fleetwood’s wife of more than 50 years, Barbara, said Fleetwood has been diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration, a brain disease similar to Parkinson’s syndrome.
“It’s nothing he wanted to give up, but it's hard for him,” Barbara said. “It’s a very rare disorder and there’s no cure.”
The Fleetwoods have lived in Milton for 41 years, having moved there in 1979. He has served multiple terms on town council, having first been appointed in 1982 and serving until 1996. After leaving council he became involved with Friends of the Milton Public Library, the Milton Historical Society and Milton Community Foundation, which helped raise money for the John Milton statue in Mill Park on Mulberry Street. He spent a decade as chairman of Milton Chamber of Commerce, establishing the Governor’s Walk and Bargains on the Broadkill, and serving on the town’s 200th Anniversary Committee.
Fleetwood said one of his proudest achievements was established when he was not on council: the summer Concerts in the Park. It was those activities that led the council to push for renaming the gazebo in his honor.
“It was a very nice dedication,” Barbara said. “He was really glad. He’s worked really hard for the town of Milton.”
Fleetwood said, “That was great. That was a very nice thing for them to do. Somebody thought I deserved it. Do I think it will give me too big a head? No.”
Fleetwood ran for town council again in 2016, coming up short in a five-way race. However, Councilman Ted Kanakos was elected mayor that year, and Kanakos tapped Fleetwood to fill the remainder of his term. Fleetwood won a second term on council in March 2018, running unopposed.
Fleetwood’s best friend on council was Emory West, who frequently refers to Fleetwood as his “brother from another mother.”
“It’s a shame that his health dictated that,” West said. “Charlie is a good man.”
The two met in 2003, when they were both part of the town’s 200th anniversary planning. The two struck up a close friendship, and they were the main forces behind the Concerts in the Park, a popular weekly summer staple in Milton. Over time, West became the MC of the concerts, with Fleetwood working behind the scenes.
“Charlie is like me; he’s a giver, not a taker. He’s not in it for the glory,” West said.
He said he plans to continue working with Fleetwood on the concerts in 2021, after this year’s slate was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can’t leave him when he’s down. We stay in touch all the time. Charlie is a damn good man,” West said.
Fleetwood said the best part of being on council was being able to do things for people, particularly his work with Milton’s parks and recreation initiatives and on the personnel committee. He echoed West’s sentiments about staying involved with the Concerts in the Park, which Fleetwood is very proud of.
“I want to do what I can for as long as I can,” he said.
Fleetwood’s health problems began in early 2018, when he began experiencing falls in his home. After seeing multiple specialists, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a condition where his spinal column is narrowing, pinching his spinal cord and affecting the nerves going to his brain. He was also diagnosed with two tumors in his neck, both benign.
Fleetwood’s recovery limited his ability to attend meetings throughout 2019, but he returned, to a standing ovation, in January. That return was short-lived, as in March, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and when in-person meetings resumed in June, Fleetwood’s health forced him to take part virtually. While he was able to participate, for him, it wasn’t the same.
“I missed being part of the process. I tried to do it virtually, but it’s not like being there. I’d rather be there,” Fleetwood said.
As for Fleetwood’s council seat, per Milton’s charter, a person to fill the remaining year-plus on Fleetwood’s term will be nominated by the mayor and voted on by council. The next council meeting will be Monday, Nov. 2.