By John Hassell Yeatts © 1983
Issue: April, 1983
It is never too late, they say, to mourn again the loss of a great individual. The fact that two months have elapsed since the kind and genteel heart of Charles Langhorne Spangler, "Tump" to all who knew him, stopped beating, does not make his passing a less somber event to be considered.
Many people loved him for many different reasons. Some, perhaps, simply because his greatness was measured in so many dimensions that went far beyond the five productive terms he served in the Virginia House of Delegates. However, 'the fact that he served with so much dedication, integrity and humility, set him apart from many of his legislative associates, and endeared him to many people.
The overwhelming political odds he overcame to be first elected to that august body might have changed the character of a more pretentious person. But Mr. Tump, being the wise and humble person he was, sought only to serve that office with distinction. Had he possessed aspirations to higher office, he could undoubtedly have been elected and would have become one of Virginia's outstanding Governors. He had the ability and leadership capable of higher office; the ancestral bearing of the Langhornes and the acumen and wit of the Spanglers. But he wanted nothing greater than to represent the people of Patrick County with democratic and unassuming distinction during the legislative term and then to hurry back to his loving family and comely white house beside Quakerfield Creek near the Meadows of Dan Post Office. He visited that Post Office almost daily until he was in his early nineties. And he always found warm hands to shake and pleasant conversation waiting for his arrival.
Had he chosen a lawless route when he was a youngster in Mayberry instead of a law enforcement and lawmaking route, he could have easily become the terror of the top of the mountain. He possessed the physical strength of a good horse which he once obligingly demonstrated by breaking a lifting pole during the construction of the big Ceph Scott house, built by his outstandingly talented father, Wallace Spangler. Two of Mayberry's strongest men in tandem had failed to fracture it. His contemporaries gave him a wide berth, we are told, even though he always displayed the harmonious and sympathetic character of his gentle mother, Fanny. He was born to be a leader only for good. The number of people in Patrick County and elsewhere who have benefited from their friendship with this great statesman could not possibly be enumerated. Many have preceded him to that Great Beyond. But the example he sat for young men and women to follow should not be allowed to become forgotten. And one way to do that would be to attempt to fill the mighty void his departure created with deeds of kindness and consideration for those left behind. We believe this is bound to happen and will become another measure of his greatness.
When we last visited him in the Blue Ridge Nursing Home, he was still concerned with the passing of another great mountain man, Reverend Lawrence Bolt. We lamented his loss together. And when his eyes filled with tears and his booming voice choked with emotion, we quickly changed the subject. It was then he informed me. "You know I must have the finest room in this home. Looking from my window to my left, I can see the lumber plant where Brother (his nephew Langhorne Webb) and I spent so many happy days. Doesn't look like it used to, but with a little imagination I can remember it all. And to my right, I can see the top of the Rye Cove mountain and toward the folks and land I love so well."
Well, he's resting now in a plot on a large ridge top in Mayberry that he helped to clear and plow along about the beginning of this century. And he's resting among many of those same folks he loved so well. But perhaps more importantly, he's living inside the hearts and minds of even more folks that he loved; and he's being remembered as he wanted to be; a good father, uncle, cousin and friend. But even more than that, he's being remembered as just plain 'Tump."