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Date of Issue: June 07, 2007

Charlotte Long, former HB mayor, dies

Charlotte Long

Charlotte Long, who served as mayor of Holmes Beach from 1978 to 1985 and was the first woman to hold the post, died June 1.

She was 86.

"She was a strong lady," said Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger. "She had the city in her heart at all times."

"She brought a sense of duty to Holmes Beach," said former Bradenton Beach Mayor Katie Pierola, who described Mrs. Long as "dignified, poised and what you would call a class act."

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, a former Holmes Beach mayor, added "feisty" to the words defining Mrs. Long.

"She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. I’ve always had the utmost respect for her," said Whitmore, singling out Mrs. Long for breaking the city’s gender barrier in the top office.

Mrs. Long ousted James Zerby to become mayor in 1978. She had served on the city commission prior to her mayoral bid and, after her eight years as mayor, she served on the city’s board of adjustment.

It was at city hall that Betty Hill, a longtime city clerk and later a city commissioner, got to know Mrs. Long in the 1970s.

"She was a very, very fine lady," Hill said. "And that’s the best way to define Charlotte - as a fine lady. Super intelligent. A great pleasure to work with."

Hill described Mrs. Long as a "productive" elected official and credited her with taking "our ancient zoning ordinance and rewriting it, bringing it up to date."

Through a working relationship, the two women developed a friendship that lasted through the years.

"She was my best friend and my boss," Hill said.

Together they traveled - as near as Disney World and as distant as the Far East. Mrs. Long, Hill remembered, was a fun and knowledgeable traveler.

They were neighbors at Westbay Point & Moorings condominiums in Holmes Beach.

The two last saw each other at the hospital, where Mrs. Long underwent heart surgery.

"It was just too much," Hill said of the surgery. "She was told by the doctors to have the surgery or she would have a massive heart attack. She didn’t feel like she had any choice."

Mrs. Long and her husband, the late William Long, met in Cleveland, Ohio. They lived in New Jersey, close enough for a commute to Manhattan, before coming to Anna Maria Island in 1973.

In addition to being remembered as a politician and traveler, Mrs. Long is remembered by her friends and large family as a golfer, a bridge player, and a gourmet cook.

Survivors include her two stepsons, Thomas Long of Bay Village, Ohio, and William Long Jr. of Lenexa, Kan., whose wife is Joy. Mrs. Long was grandmother to two children and great-grandmother to nine children.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, June 8, at the Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Griffith-Cline Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Church of the Annunciation memorial garden, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach FL 34217-1829.