Robert A. Long was born to Merle and Blanche Long in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 24th in 1930. Bob was only 4’10” tall in high school and too small for football. Instead he tried out for the cheer leading squad and became the first “cheer king” at Bethel High School in Pittsburgh. More importantly, it was at this time that he met a cheer leader, Marie Lehner, who would be his life long companion. They eloped to Oakland, Maryland, and were married on March the 7th of 1949.
Bob was a rural mail carrier by day and a college student at night at the University of Pittsburgh. It was seven years of night school that earned him a degree in Business Administration. He was soon employed by Westinghouse and in 1955 they offered him a job in Idaho at the N.R.T.S. Bob made a solo trip to Idaho Falls to look into housing for his young family and famously took pictures of the elk and bear at Tautphaus Park Zoo to show his wife where they were going to move!
They bought a house on 9th Street, across from Linden Park Elementary School. At that time 9th Street was dirt - the eastern edge of Idaho Falls. For 20 years Bob would “catch the bus” at 6 am and be home about 6 pm. Life was full of coaching Little League baseball, camping and fishing trips to Island Park with a 16’ trailer pulled by a Dodge station wagon, long weekends to Dillon, Montana, to see our cousins, and pheasant and sage grouse hunts in the Fall. Bob was active at St. John’s Episcopal Church (Bob and Marie helped start the St. Mark’s Soup Kitchen years later), the PTA, a Mason (32nd degree) and refereed high school football. And he did it all with a pipe in his mouth - including the referee part. There is hardly a picture of Bob that doesn’t show a pipe between his teeth or in his hand. (Check photo!)
After 20 years with Westinghouse the company decided to “transfer” our family back to Pittsburgh. Not so quick! Bob ran a democratic household and around the kitchen table the four of us decided that Idaho was our home and we were going nowhere. On his last day of work, as he was unscrewing his name plate from his office door, a friend said: “We could use you at D.O.E.” The very next week Bob began another 20 year career with D.O.E. that kept him in town rather than out on the desert. He never missed a single day of work.
During the D.O.E. decades, Bob explored the West in a ‘78 VW Camper Bus, and a ‘83, and finally a ‘93! He loved the mountains and camping with his family. Bob’s best friend, Brink, was a submarine officer in WWII. He took Bob to an annual convention of submariners and they named Bob an “honorary submariner”. He was so proud of that.
Marie was stricken with Alzheimers in 2005. Bob cared for her at home for two years. It was the hardest day of his life as he took her to Turtle and Crane where she remained for five years, thanks to the loving care of Mary and her team there. For those five years, Bob was there every day to feed her lunch. When Marie died on Mother’s Day of 2012, we thought that Bob would join her in 6 months or less. Instead, we had him for 6 years at his singular home on 9th Street. He’s enjoyed these last few years with birthday parties, visits from his daughter, Gunsmoke and Bonanza and visiting with anyone who came by.
Bob was a great husband, a great father, a great neighbor and a great citizen. I am so sorry that so many people of this “Greatest Generation” are leaving us now. We must remember what they taught us. And what Bob taught us was how to be a “people person”. We need more of that now in the world.
As Bob diminished over the last couple years he was cared for by Hospice of Eastern Idaho. There are angels here among us and I will tell you there names: Celeste, Lorri, Debbie, Allan, Joe, Cherly, Dawn, Jo Ann, Sandy, Angie ... you are tucked next to my heart forever. And a special thanks to Tommy for helping make Bob’s dream of spending his last days at home come true.
Bob is survived by his daughter Linda Redding (Dennis) and their two daughters, Samantha Marie and Tara Lynne Amaral (Pete) and their two children, Caleb and Madelyn Marie. And his son, David Long (Lisa).
In lieu of flowers a donation to Hospice of Eastern Idaho would be appreciated.