MANCHESTER — Gary A. Long was remembered for his selflessness and community service by about 300 family members, friends and business associates who gathered Thursday at St. Pius X Church for his funeral.
Long, 63, died unexpectedly on Aug. 8, about two months after he retired from Public Service of New Hampshire, where he was the president and was employed for 38 years.
The Rev. Thomas Rafferty of St. Paul Church in Wellesley, Mass., cousin of Long’s wife, Mary, officiated, telling the mourners that there would be no “what ifs” or “if onlys” when Long gave an accounting of his life before being admitted to Heaven. Long, he said, lived a life with no regrets.
Rafferty recalled first meeting the man who would become his cousin’s husband of 40 years. Mary, he said, was moving to New Mexico for a teaching job. He and the other young cousins, uninformed as they were, he said, thought she would live there with Native Americans and that she may come back married to one or even an Indian chief.
When she returned home, he said, she was accompanied by a clean-cut man in the uniform of an U.S. Air Force officer — Long, who was raised in Albuquerque, N.M.
“The rest is history,” he said.
In reflecting on Long’s life, Rafferty said that Long over the years hadn’t really changed from the man he met that day, although he had grown in wisdom.
Despite all Long did professionally and all the time he committed to community service, he remained a “devoted dad” who always made his family the “center of his universe,” Rafferty said. And it is clear from the tributes that have poured in just how much Long was loved.
“He had no regrets,” said Tom Belair, who works on PSNH’s energy efficiency team and was among the mourners. “We adored him. He was amazing. He deserved a long, happy retirement. He was robbed.”
Long is being remembered by community and state leaders for his generosity in serving on various nonprofit, community and economic development organizations, including chairing the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce board, Easter Seals of New Hampshire and judging the U.S. FIRST robotics competition.
“Gary was a tireless champion and advocate for our state’s business community and previously served six years as a board member and chairman of the board of the GMCC,” said Michael Skelton, GMCC president and CEO, in a communication to members. “Gary’s leadership style, record of community service and unwavering dedication to improving our state will forever serve as a role model future business and community leaders.”
Long was born in Adrian, Minn., and raised in Albuquerque. He lived in Manchester since 1976 and had three children with his wife Mary K. (Hanafin) Long.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from Northeastern University.
He attained the rank of first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force before beginning his career with PSNH in 1976. He was appointed president and CEO in 2000.
Long was an active communicant of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and, most recently, a member of Saint Pius X Church.