Mr. Edward H. Long - 1879-1967
by Basil Vaerlen, Secretary California Chapter
Fig. 9. Edward H. Long, looking over one of his favorite plants.
To his many friends and acquaintances in the American Rhododendron Society, it may be a surprise to hear of the death, on June 23, 1967, of Ed Long, past president o£ the California Chapter.
Ed was born in North Ireland on September 11, 1879, but the family moved to America, when Ed was about seven, and settled in Southern California. There, as an old adage goes, having survived the first thirteen unlucky years, he became a native son! At seventeen he joined the telephone company with which he remained until his retirement in 1944.
But retirement was not a way of life for Ed who was too vital, too much interested in the whole living process. Having an inventive frame of mind, he soon invented and received patents on improvements in orthopedic braces for which he set up his own production company. This new activity occupied him until his death. But again, business as such, was not his heart interest. From childhood he was fascinated by the out-of-doors-hunting, camping, fishing and the observation of growing plants. When restricted to the city, golf and gardening gave him the touch of nature. Early in life he became fascinated by the rex begonias, and typically of him, soon became an authority in that area. It was the same thoroughness in his interest in Japanese prints and Oriental rugs which on occasions brought consultations from collectors.
It was through his friendship with Dr. Paul Jay Bowman, of Fort Bragg, California, that Ed became interested in rhododendrons. Dr. Bowman had long contributed to plant explorations and had raised on the seeds which were his share in the venture. From these, and with the acquisition of fine species, he created one of the finest collection on the West Coast. His enthusiasm rubbed off on Ed, particularly a love for the Maddenii Series which thrives so well in the coastal sections of Central California.
For five years, 1961-1965, Ed was president of the California Chapter of the A.R.S. Among the progressive moves of his administration was the establishment of an annual show, with its awards and trophies, which is yearly proving more successful; and the establishment of auctions and drawings for plants at the regular meetings. From his own garden and from others he collected cutting wood which Charles Richards, of Fort Bragg, rooted. These, distributed through the society, satisfied his desire that members be able to get rare and hard-to-get species and varieties. The auctions of such materials also helped to swell the society's treasury.
To few is it given to be vital and active to that age - always adventurously in pursuit of new interests. During his last illness, his most frequent complaint to Mrs. Long was that he wouldn't be able to go on his regular hunting and fishing trip! It is to such people that the Rhododendron Society owes so much-for their abiding interest in the field, their unrelenting drive to improve the varieties, broaden the knowledge and make such material available to us less-dedicated souls who just "like to grow rhododendrons."
We, in the California Chapter, particularly, will miss him, so accustomed had we become, year after year, to seeing his warm, genial and shy half smile at the meetings.