Chief Don Long really had a wonderful life

There is an inherent respect in the title, Chief. Glenview's Donald Long certainly deserved it.

A 1994 Glenview Citizen of the Year, and the last chief of the Glenbrook Rural Fire Protection District who in 1992 led that unit's merger with the Glenview Fire Department, Long, 93, died on Sept. 16.

"He had such a feeling for the village and its people and its history. We were just so fortunate to have him as a resource," said Beverly Dawson, president of the Glenview Historical Society, of which Mr. Long was a past president.

Of course he was. A review of his activities and memberships reveals a man whose interests were as expansive as the 40-acre farm on which he was born on Aug. 16, 1928, a settlement that is now Flick Park. At the time of his birth, Glenview had been incorporated as a village only 29 years.

On top of several leadership positions, he sang bass in the choir and acted in productions at Immanuel Lutheran Church, where he was a lifelong member, said the Pioneer Press articles gathered in the Village of Glenview archives.

Yet for 23 years he also worked at Hines Lumber, eventually becoming a foreman, and he was a Civil War re-enactor representing the 20th Illinois Infantry Regiment.

On that note, he was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving from 1950-52 as a crane operator building an airfield at Hamilton Air Force Base in California, the Pioneer Press noted.

Respect and service to the armed forces was among his main drives, gleaned from his obituary by N.H. Scott & Hanekamp Funeral Home, where Mr. Long's services were held Sept. 23.

He was a commander of the Joseph Sesterhenn Glenview American Legion Post No. 166, a president of the Glenview Council of the U.S. Navy League, and on the Glenview Naval Air Museum board of directors. In the Glenview Television video, "100 Years of Glenview Fire Service," he recalled that he started volunteering as a firefighter in 1961. He took the job full-time in 1970, served as chief of the Rural Fire Protection District from 1985-92 and retired in 1997, five years after the absorption of the rural district into the Glenview Fire Department.

"He is responsible for guiding the department through a lot of changes and I never heard anyone say a bad thing about Chief Long," said Jesse Gallagher, a firefighter and paramedic with the Glenview Fire Department and the president of the Glenview Professional Firefighters Union 4186. "He had the reputation of being the kindest, most generous person around. He was a model of a community fire chief.".

Dawson said Glenview Fire personnel attended the Sept. 23 funeral at Immanuel Lutheran Church, including two engines - one of which had to leave on a call. "Isn't that poetic?" she said.

In the GVTV video, Mr. Long was asked about his favorite part of serving the Fire Department. "When I was on the engine company," he said. "If you can say it's enjoyable going to fires ..."

Long was one of Glenview's first three full-time firefighters. Upon the merger of the departments he became a special assistant to Chief Joe Robberson, according to the Pioneer Press.

A graduate of Northbrook High School, Oakton Community College and Southern Illinois University, Oakton later named Mr. Frost an alumni of the year.

He also sang with the Glenview Park District Starlite Singers, and was a member of Glenview Sunrise Rotary. Reflecting his rural upbringing, he also served as a docent at Wagner Farm.

Mr. Long is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mary (nee Rieb); daughters Linda (Dennis) Burmeister and Cheryl (Martin) Haugen; four grandchildren and a great-grandchild; and a brother, Melvin. He was preceded in death by a sister, Virginia. Memorial may be made to Glenview History Center, 1121 Waukegan Road, Glenview, IL, 60025; or Hangar One Foundation, Glenview Naval Air Museum, 2040 Lehigh Ave., Glenview, IL 60026.

"He really was a man who put his whole heart into the work that he did, and we miss him so much," Dawson said.

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