I first met Jim Long five years ago after he’d celebrated his birthday—his 100th. He wanted to touch base with the person who holds the same job he once held. He was Columns editor, too. Seventy-five years earlier.
Over tea and cookies with him and his wife, Nancy, on the deck of their Edmonds home, Jim told me stories about his time as a newspaperman covering politics, and his interactions with the heavyweights of the day: Warren Magnuson, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Albert Rosellini, Dan Evans. Just like Jim—who earned a journalism degree from the UW in the 1930s—they were all UW grads.
Ever since that day, Jim became a mentor to me. After each issue of the magazine would come out, I’d send him a copy and ask for his feedback. Within a week, he’d send me a handwritten note and, to my surprise, each one would include a haiku he’d composed. The man was addicted to words, both in his work at newspapers and magazines in Seattle, New York City and Honolulu as well as his time as a military press aide and a press officer for the Diocesan Press Service. (He was also an ordained Episcopal priest.)
After Nancy died in 2013, he moved into the Norse Home on Phinney Ridge—a move that made perfect sense given that he loved animals as much as he did words (he was a longtime docent at Woodland Park Zoo). Heck, he even wrote haikus about animals, some of which were included in The Best of the Best, a collection of his works published by his daughters, Constance and Susan, in honor of his 100th birthday.
Last Dec. 19, I brought my copy with me to his memorial service at Saint Mark’s Cathedral. Jim died Dec. 1 after a bout with pneumonia. He was 105.
I last saw him in the fall when he and Constance came by the office. Jim wanted to go through some old Columns magazines from the ’30s, ever the word lover, devoted Husky and friend. His bond to the UW was as obvious as the heart and soul he put into his writing. In his notes to me, he was not only concerned with the journalistic aspects of the magazine, but how the University was portrayed. After all, he was a part of the UW community for 84 years—more than half of the UW’s existence. That devotion carried through to the very end.
I miss you Jim.
Yesterday has gone
Tomorrow’s not yet
But today’s the day that “is”
— Jim Long