William Alfred Long, a retired fuel oil salesman and longtime referee of high school and college lacrosse, died of pneumonia Nov. 16 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. The Homeland resident was 80.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Irvington, Pikesville and Waverly, he was a 1949 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School. He proved himself a skilled writer at the University of Baltimore, according to family members, becoming editor of the school yearbook before graduating in 1953 with a marketing degree.
At Mount St. Joseph, he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, John, by developing a passion for lacrosse. A burly defender at 6 feet 2 inches, he loved the physical challenges of the sport, according to his daughter, Carol Long Mackay of Towson, and he became a fitness fanatic, taking up jogging "before jogging was stylish," Ms. Mackay said.
For more than 30 years, he stayed involved with the sport as a referee, establishing a reputation not just as an imposing figure but also as a man who knew the rules inside and out, applying them so fairly he was rarely challenged on his calls.
Tom Peace of Lutherville recalls officiating games with Mr. Long during the early 1970s and being amazed at how effectively such a big man covered the field, especially given that there were only two officials per game in those days.
"He moved well, he was never out of position, and if things got heated, he always stayed above the fray. He was exactly what you want in an official, and a great mentor to me," Mr. Peace said.
He belonged to the Southern Lacrosse Officials Association from 1959 through 1978, serving one term as president, and won the Andrew M. Kirkpatrick Award — named for the National Lacrosse Hall of Famer who founded the Maryland State Lacrosse Officials Association — in 1968.
He and a friend also started a youth lacrosse program in Govanstown in 1973. He officiated at high school and Division III college games until he was 48.
He sold home furnaces and fuel oil for more than 30 years, first for Exxon, then for the Wells-Marex Corp. and Tate Engineering Systems, retiring at age 60. But that was the point, his daughter said, at which he began showing the quality that defined his later years: adaptability.
"My father saw life as playing the hand you were dealt," she said.
He studied for and earned a commercial driver's license, working for nearly 20 years as a bus driver for the Baltimore County public school system. A skilled handyman, he gave seminars in the art of repair, and he took up bridge, the favorite game of his father, teaching and later playing it regularly at the Senior Network of North Baltimore.
He wrote a 50-page book, "A Long Family History: My Perspective in Remembering," which chronicled his years growing up during the Depression, distributing copies to all close family members.
In 2004, he became a caregiver to his wife after cancer affected her mobility. He did all the family shopping, learned to cook and remodeled portions of the house to make it handicapped-accessible.
"It was a total role reversal in their marriage, and he adapted beautifully," Ms. Mackay said.
A member of St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Baltimore, he performed home visitations as a Eucharistic minister and belonged to the Notre Dame Council of the Knights of Columbus. He was an active swimmer until his death.
A Mass of Christian burial was offered Nov. 19 at St. Mary of the Assumption.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Jean Eagers; two sons, Stephen Joseph Long of Baltimore and Thomas Long of Blythe, Calif.; a brother, John Long of Waban, Mass.; two sisters, Anne Nevin of Westminster and Sister Mary Regina Long of Baltimore; and eight grandchildren. A third son, Michael Long, preceded him in death.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun