Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Marion Long dies at 85


June 28, 2018

Marion Long. Photo courtesy of the Long family.

Marion E. Long, 85, died June 11 in Anchorage of organ failure. He had moved there for kidney treatment several years ago. Long retired to Haines in 1983 and enjoyed helping others, riding his Bristol-shape Harley Davidson, and spending time with his friends and family, including those he called his adopted family at the Chilkat Restaurant and Bakery.

Long was born July 20, 1933, in Kansas to farmers Hattie Mae and Jesse Long. They lived in Missouri before heading west to California where his father died in a car accident. After high school, Long joined the Marines and worked as a cook. He had one son from his first marriage, Larry Long. He settled in Toledo, Oregon, where he worked as a foreman in a plywood mill, competed in archery events, and fished in a drift boat that he built.

Long came to Haines to be near his brother Meryl, who preceeded him in death, and lived at 33 Mile. Over the years he worked at the 33 Mile Roadhouse, drove a school bus, clerked at Haines Home Building and most recently was a helper at the Chilkat Restaurant and Bakery.

Haines Home Building owner Glenda Gilbert still misses his pleasant, helpful presence. "If a stranger needed a tool, he'd give it to them and not keep track of it. He'd trust them to return it." He took time off in 1995 to realize a lifelong dream of riding his Harley across the country, logging 10,000 miles in a few months.

Long liked working on machines of all kinds.  "He could take any kind of vehicle and clean it up and tinker with it until he had it running well and looking good," nephew Brayton Long said.

In his later years, Long shared a home with his brother. "They were like the odd couple," his nephew said. "Marion was Felix to my dad's Oscar."

Long was a regular for coffee at the Chilkat bakery for years. When Miki Atkins, originally from Bangkok, bought the business in 2006, she kept the doughnuts and added curries to the mid-America menu. Long was initially put off by the changes, and had trouble understanding her accent, Atkins said, but they gradually discovered they had much in common from cooking and motorcycles to shared values.

One morning, after the coffee crew had left, Long said he was heading home to "warm up his chair," and Atkins suggested he stay and help her mother, who doesn't speak English, chop vegetables in exchange for free coffee and lunch. Soon, Long began arriving before the restaurant opened to brew the coffee and hang the flag on the porch. "He had a great sense of humor and made my mother laugh," she said. The young staff of Asian exchange students called Long "Grandpa."

"In our culture there is respect for elders. 'You are my family' he'd say. 'You are our elder,' we'd say. We all loved Marion," Atkins said.

Long never did acquire a taste for Thai food. "He didn't eat vegetables," Atkins said. Fish and chips and tuna melts were his favorites.

Old friend Bob Budke said Long even talked him into helping bake bagels with him when Atkins was in a pinch. "You had to pry words out of him, but his actions spoke loudly. He was a great friend. I would wish that if everybody had one friend, it would be one like Marion," Budke said.

Long is survived by his sister Myrna Chism and her family; son Lawrence and his wife Sandra; three grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; nephew Terry Long and his family; and locally by Brayton and Dayton Long and the extended Long families.

A graveside service is planned for Jones Point.

Donations in Long's memory may be made to the Haines Volunteer Fire Department at P.O. Box 849, Haines AK 99827.


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