State officials remember Long's sevice, humor
Posted February 3, 2009 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The monthly meeting of the North Carolina Council of State on Tuesday was overshadowed by the death Monday of longtime Insurance Commissioner Jim Long.
Gov. Beverly Perdue opened Tuesday's meeting with a moment of silence for Long, who served 24 years on the council before retiring as insurance commissioner last month. Long suffered a stroke on Jan. 21 while attending a legislative committee hearing.
"It's just a huge loss for folks across North Carolina. He cared about all of us. It didn't matter where you lived or what your income was. He was just a tremendous public servant and he'll be missed," Perdue said.
Attorney General Roy Cooper wore a red tie in tribute to Long, who always wore one just like his father, a state lawmaker, had during his years in Raleigh. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall also accessorized in memory of her friend, wearing a red scarf.
"I didn't have a real tie and my husband didn't have a plain tie, but I'm doing this in honor of Jim," Marshall said.
"A lot of people have money in their pockets because of Jim Long's work. He fought hard to keep insurance rates low," Cooper said.
While the public tied Long to their insurance rates, his fellow public servants said they won't forget his humor.
"Jim was just a hoot. He was a delightful person to be around," Marshall said.
"Sometimes, he made it difficult to pay attention (at council meetings) because he was always saying something funny," Cooper said.
Their laughter was tempered by the sorrow that Long died just days into his retirement. Still, Wayne Goodwin, his former assistance who succeeded him as insurance commissioner, said that wouldn't diminish Long's legacy.
"Even though life is sometimes unfair, perhaps this is one way of showing he had done the full and good work of a public servant," Goodwin said. "We'll miss him very much."
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at Hayes-Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh.
His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday at The Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter in Burlington. Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the church and from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Raleigh.
Perdue ordered all state flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday. A condolence book will be available in the Capitol Building until Friday evening for people to note their remembrances of Long.
Long's death subdued an otherwise historic Council of State meeting. Six of the 10 council members are women following the November election, creating the first female majority for the state.