Will Elliott ~ Buffalo News September 9 2007
John Long Sr., 74, of Wheatfield died quietly at 4:30 a.m. August 29 in the Lockport Hospice House, an ending totally converse to the life long led.
A prosperous businessman prideful of his total lack of computer skills, Long possessed people skills that simply could not be programmed.
|When not arranging insurance policies for everyone
from homeowners to gun clubs and shooting ranges, Long
could mix with everyone. His personal acquaintances ranged
from Marilyn Monroe to Warren Buffet, but his fastest
friends came from the fields and waters of Western New
York — and a family that included 12 beloved
His funeral procession on the morning of Sept. 1 stretched more than a mile, proceeding from First Baptist Church in Lockport to the Northridge Cemetery in Cambria.
He is buried next to his close friend Sen. John Daly. At Daly’s request, Long planted a shamrock on Daly’s grave every St. Patrick’s Day. Now that rite will be the duty of John Long Jr., his son, business partner and outdoors companion. See picture of the Senator below.
John Jr. saw the high point of the funeral proceedings as the story-telling luncheon get-together at the 3-F club in Lewiston that afternoon.
Long had a hunting camp in Rushford, where the presiding minister had gone on deer hunts. But the biggest story source came from his bear camp near Kirkland Lake in northern Ontario.
His coffin was draped with a blanket sewn with sections of shirt tails of hunters who had missed a bear. Names such as Kimp Vosburg and Bill Hilts Sr. showed prominently on this collage of miscues.
Big hunts, Niagara River fishguiding trips, hanging around the film crew during the shooting of the movie “Niagara” with Marilyn Monroe, legislative successes, and dozens of other accomplishments were shared. But it was Long’s amazing survival story that highlighted his outdoors spirit.
While on a moose hunt in October of 1994, a snow storm similar to the “October Surprise” of 2006 in Western New York, kicked up. Long was about eight miles from his cabin.
He had killed a moose, but he suffered a hyper-extended knee injury just as the high winds and severe cold moved in on him.
Rescue teams could not find him for 36 hours. The thought was that by that time it was a recovery rather than a rescue mission.
A seasoned and well-prepared outdoorsmen, Long had a Space Blanket, some food and tools needed to make a pine bough lean-to. Once the winds subsided, he fashioned a walking stick and hobbled more than seven miles to where rescuers finally spotted him near a dirt road.
“One guy [a rescue team member] said they thought I’d died and were just about to quit looking for me,” he recalled during a writers’ conference in Madison, Wis. But his friends and family knew that he would come out of that cold, deep snow alive. He did.
He also went on to serve as the Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB) vice chairman and later chairman for more than 10 years. Hunters and outdoors folk statewide benefited from his many financial and legislative successes.
Hilts said, “We can thank John for passage of bills for Sunday Hunting, Southern Tier Rifles, Youth Hunting Days and so many other sportsmen-related legislation passed.” Long regularly drove from Niagara County to Albany as a watchdog, maintaining effective control of conservation project monies.
Long, always in great physical shape, watching his weight and drink intake, could kill a deer with a longbow at distances out to 50 or more yards. Yet, until the last few days when he suffered his second stroke, he was a strong advocate of crossbow use for hunters in New York State.
I had the pleasure of rooming with Long during the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) 2006 conference at Madison, Wis., where he shared many of his goals and his gadfly wizardry. A Wizard of Oz theme park and the future of hunting in general were frequent conversation topics during that gathering. But crossbow legalization came up most often.
“Some people just can’t shoot a regular [drawn, vertical] bow, and they should have the chance to hunt during the warmer [earlier] part of the deer season,” he asserted.
His induction into New York State Outdoors Hall of Fame in Utica on April 28 typified his family pride. “He brought the entire family, including all 12 grandchildren, to the ceremonies that night,” John Long Jr. recalled.
A New York State Outdoor Writer (NYSOWA) past president, he often chaired state and joint conferences with other writers groups. He organized a gathering with the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) in 1986.
NYSOWA and AGLOW will be holding a joint conference at Niagara Falls on Sept. 17-20 this year. He will be missed there and everywhere outdoors folk get together. Thanks, John.