GAA Volunteer Ed Long Loved Language

Published in Carolina Alumni Review, July/August 2003

You may not know the name Ed Long ’48, but for the past five years, he devoted much of his time to getting to know you. As the volunteer writer for the class notes section of the Carolina Alumni Review, Long made sure hundreds of life moments from UNC alumni were reported in the magazine, from job changes to marriages and births.

On May 12, Long died after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Born in North Wilkesboro, Long graduated with a journalism degree and went to work for the Statesville Daily Record in 1948, where he stayed for five years. While he was there, working as a rookie reporter, he propped open a significant door to one 15-year-old’s future.

“I was … writing the high school column and covering high school sports and hanging around because I wanted to write,” recalled Doris Betts ’54, now a UNC English professor and novelist. “Ed knew I also loved to read, and he took on the chore of educating me past the 10th-grade level by not only assigning me books from college American literature classes that he had loved, but bringing me his own copies. Then the books had to be understood well enough to survive dialogue and questions.

“I particularly remember the John dos Passos trilogy, because reading ‘experimental’ literature of that kind was brand new.”

Long, who also worked for a time as an information officer at Virginia Tech, spent most of his career – more than 28 years – in Maryland as a health program officer at the National Institute of Mental Health. At NIMH, he spearheaded efforts to help erase the stigma from those suffering from mental illness. He also raised four children with his wife, Betty Lu.

When he retired to the town that encases the alma mater he deeply loved – he often told the story of how he offered to sleep in the town jail as a student, when campus housing was tight – Long might as well have been a student again. He offered his writing and proofreading services to the Review one reunion weekend in 1998 and worked nearly unfailingly, every Thursday, through this past April. It was, for staff members throughout the GAA, the highlight of the week.

Beyond his love for Carolina sports and the Washington Redskins was a deep appreciation for the beauty, and humor, of language. Famous for his puns, Long loved nothing more than making one word bounce off another just to see how they would land in a roomful of people. Usually, they landed to laughter. More than anything else, he will be remembered for the never-ending smile that spread across his face and reached into the hearts of everyone he touched.

At his memorial service, the youthful pictures of Long that were displayed spoke volumes to Betts, “including my grateful memories of a generous and talented reporter, a shock of dark hair falling down into his face as he typed rapidly and energetically. All his life, he was that kind young man, finding out what somebody needed, and finding a way to meet that need.”

Copyright 2003 UNC General Alumni Association