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Homan: Garnati was more than a good public servant

Posted on 11/17/2017, 1:00 AM

How would you like to be remembered after your death? Were you a good person? Did you care about your family and friends? Were you a positive difference maker in people's lives?

Charles "Chuck" Garnati can certainly rest easy knowing that he made a positive difference in his lifetime.

Williamson County's longest-serving state's attorney died early Tuesday morning in a St. Louis hospital following a lengthy illness. He was only 65.

While Garnati could lay claim to a treasure trove of accomplishments as the lead prosecutor for the county from 1984 until 2014, including a perfect record in murder cases, I believe he would prefer to be remembered for something else that is every bit as important as putting away hardened criminals.

I believe Garnati would like to be remembered for using his good name to raise tens of thousands of dollars for local charities that cater to the needs of abused and neglected children.

Because that's exactly what he did. He turned a golf tournament campaign fundraiser into one that directly benefited the children served by Williamson County CASA and the Williamson County Child Advocacy Center.

Each year, $20,000 or more was raised from the event and was split two ways. That is clearly not enough money to run either organization, but it sure comes in handy when finances are limited. It might mean helping 15 or 20 extra kids in a given year.

"Chuck Garnati was a true champion for children," said Leah Brown, director of the Child Advocacy Center, speaking on behalf of her entire staff. "As a prosecutor who saw firsthand how the disjointed systems and investigations were re-traumatizing children and families, Chuck knew that our children deserved more, and he took the lead to create a better system of care."

Brown said Garnati put the child first as the focus of an investigation and wrapped services around the child so that there could be better outcomes for victims of child abuse.

"His work in developing the Child Advocacy Center 25 years ago will remain a cornerstone for victims of abuse for years to come," she said.

Nanette Evans, director for CASA of Williamson County, felt similarly.

"Chuck was such a wonderful support for the children," she said. "He had a big heart and really wanted to make sure the kids in our community were taken care of. He (and his staff) put so much time and effort into his fundraisers each year."

Knowing Chuck as I did, I am confident that he would deflect any credit for improving the lives of the children he financially supported to those professionals who work directly with the children. But there's no doubt whatsoever that he made a difference in so many lives.

For that, we are all forever grateful.