John Kelley Hammitt Long II, 92, of Idaho Falls, passed away peacefully Monday, July 14, 2014, at the home of his son and daughter-in-law, where he had been residing for the past six years. His son, John Jr., daughter-in-law, Janna, and cat, Persey, were at his side.
He was born Dec. 12, 1921, in New Rochelle, N.Y., to John Kelley Hammitt Long and Alva Rae Taylor Long. His father passed away when he was only 8 years old and just prior to the Great Depression. His mother, worked at a printing press to support him and his sister, Doris, raising them both to appreciate music and learning. He grew up and attended schools in Manhattan.
Following graduation from high school, he attended Columbia College at the age of 16 and graduated with a B.S. in chemistry. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, stateside, as a chemist. He later continued his education by attending Ohio State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in physics.
On Dec. 30, 1948, he married Maye Louise Hampton in New York City. She brought to the marriage a young daughter, Iona, who John adopted and raised as his own. Maye and John spent their early years together raising their children, with frequent diversions to the ski hill and nearby lakes and streams for canoeing and fishing.
Although John was raised as a city boy in New York City, he quickly grew to love and appreciate the beautiful scenery and lifestyle Idaho has to offer. He became an advocate for wilderness conservation, including the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness Act.
John first came to Idaho in 1955 to work for Argonne National Laboratory as a nuclear physicist in their fast reactor program. He spent the next 18 years "smashing atoms."
John was an avid reader and lifelong learner. He and his wife, Maye recognized a need for a good bookstore in Idaho Falls. They opened the Marketplace Bookstore on Park Avenue during the early 1970s with another couple.
He and Maye moved to Maryland in 1973 to take a position with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During his 10-year residency in Maryland, John took the opportunity to attend operas, travel to historical sights and to take up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.
After his retirement from NRC, John returned to Idaho to live near his sons and grandchildren. He worked part-time as a consultant. He and Maye enjoyed spending the warmer months in Idaho and the winter months in the Tucson, Ariz., area. Maye passed away in June 1990.
John enjoyed traveling and he made several national and international trips throughout his lifetime. He later purchased a home in Green Valley, Ariz., where he lived until his memory became an issue in taking care of himself independently. He returned to Idaho Falls in 2008 to live with his son and daughter-in-law.
He was able to take several trips during the past few years. He enjoyed vacationing on Orcas Island and San Felipe, Mexico, and visiting his son, Brady, and daughter-in-law, Rebecca, in Davenport, Iowa, and on Bois Blanc Island in northern Michigan.
He was one of the early members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Idaho Falls, where he made many very close friends.
He enjoyed photography, canoeing, sailing, traveling, reading and music, especially opera. He also enjoyed dancing and politics. Solving challenging math equations was one of his pastimes. He played the piano and tried his best at the guitar He enjoyed drinking wine and collecting the labels in a scrapbook. Stamp collecting was another hobby he enjoyed. He took up weaving and bread baking at one point. He was never bored or boring.
He was loved by all who knew him, humans and animals alike. His cats, Persy and Daisy, watched over him constantly and are among the many who are mourning his loss.
Considering all the numerous accomplishments in his life, John was an extremely humble person. He was never known to "toot his own horn," but his wife Maye may have made up for that. She was very proud of him. John was a truly dear and unique person. He was a man of few words, but the words he selected were enough to make his point and to demonstrate his dry wit. Even when his memory was gone, he was able to surprise us all with a clever retort.
Quotes recently shared with the family by his loved ones include: "He was a great man, with such humor and grace, who had a profound impact on us all." "I have been so honored to know him." "What a gem of a man. He will be missed greatly." "I remember his lightening intellect, his gentle way and his sparkling sense of humor." We couldn't agree more. John Kelley Hammitt Long II, you truly were a great man and loved by all of us fortunate enough to have known you. May you rest in peace.
John is survived by his sons, John K. (Janna) Long, Jr. of Idaho Falls, Paul Brady (Rebecca Currier) Long of Davenport, Iowa; daughter, Iona (Tom) Ross of Carlisle, Pa.; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren; and cats, Persey and Daisy.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Maye; an infant son; sister, Doris; granddaughter, Casey Belcher; and grandson, Mark Miller.
He was under the care of Teton Home Health and Hospice of Idaho Falls. The family wishes to thank their staff for their skills, compassion and support during his recent illness. His comfortable, peaceful passing in our home would not have been possible without your help.
Memorial services will be held at a later date.
Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.woodfuneralhome.com.