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Gantt leads tribute to Susan Burgess

By Jim Morrill
jmorrill@charlotteobserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt Thursday night introduced a video tribute to departed Democrats, including the woman who pushed to bring the Democratic National Convention to Charlotte when few believed it possible.

Gantt led off the remembrance for more than score of people who have died since the last convention.

The list included Sargent Shriver and his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, actor Andy Griffith and civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height. The loudest cheers were for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Elizabeth Edwards and Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a major party ticket.

But Gantt spoke of one, the late Susan Burgess.

Burgess was a former Charlotte mayor pro tem and member of the Democratic National Committee. A former high school cheerleader, she was a vocal but lonely advocate for bringing her party’s convention to Charlotte. In 2009, barely a year after the election of President Barack Obama, she organized a meeting in town with newly elected Mayor Anthony Foxx, tourism officials and former DNC Chairman Don Fowler of Columbia.

That meeting led to the city’s application for the convention, which was awarded in February 2011.

Burgess died of cancer in 2010.

“Sadly she did not get the chance to see the (convention here),” Gantt said. “She would be very proud. She is, tonight, with us in spirit.”

Jason Burgess, Susan’s son, said, “We were so proud to hear Mayor Gantt mention our mother. … We have a strong pride for all the things she did to make our city great, with the DNC being her last success. … It would be impossible for us to put into words our gratitude, but we will continue to carry her passion for Charlotte with us always.”

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