Vera Pierce Long 1920 - 2013 Vera Long of Greenbrae passed away peacefully in her home on October 4, 2013 at the age of 93, with her loving family by her side. She is survived by her daughter, Susan Long Upshaw and her husband, Lynn; by her granddaughters Jennifer Upshaw Swartz and her husband, John; Lauren Upshaw Pitts and her husband, Jason; and by her great grandchildren, Molly, Maggie, and Ben Pitts, and Kate Swartz. Born in Monroe, North Carolina, Vera was raised in the countryside where she learned about generosity by watching how her mother welcomed the poor and homeless to enjoy a warm meal during the Great Depression. Vera attended public school and business college in Monroe. By 1943, Vera was a stunning Southern beauty who knocked her husband-to-be right off his feet when they met in Charlotte, NC. Bert Long was a brilliant, yet unassuming attorney from Illinois farm country. He had received his undergraduate and law degrees at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois and the newlyweds started their life together as virtually inseparable partners in a marriage that would last 57 years. After World War II broke out, Bert first served in the U.S. Army, then as an FBI special agent and was eventually assigned to Argentina to conduct reconnaissance of Nazis in Santiago, Chile and the surrounding environs. He then served as a legal aide to a U.S. Congressman from his home state of Illinois. But Bert longed to be in the courtroom, so the couple moved to Baltimore, where their daughter Susan was born. In nearby Washington, Bert returned to the U.S. Justice Department and ultimately became one of the most successful government litigators in the country. With Vera by his side, Bert eventually rose to become the Deputy Chief for Anti-Trust, based in Chicago, and the family lived happily for many years near the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston, Illinois. At the same time, Bert continued to serve in the U.S. Army reserve, where he ultimately achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Judge Advocate Corps. After retiring from the Federal government, Bert and Vera decided that it was time to try sitting on the other side of the courtroom, and Bert was hired by the famed law firm of Mayer Brown and Platt in their Chicago headquarters office. But he soon missed public service, and was recruited to be the Assistant Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia in Richmond. There, Bert and Vera could be seen strolling down historic Monument Avenue alongside the renowned statues of Confederate generals. In 1982, the couple retired for good and lived briefly in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, before moving to Greenbrae in Marin County to be close to their daughter and her family. For many years thereafter, they were always there with their love and generosity for their granddaughters, Jennifer and Lauren, until 2001, when Bert passed away. Vera then carried on as the loving grandmother to her successful granddaughters and great-grandmother to their four beautiful children. Vera was a beloved neighbor in her Greenbrae condominium complex, and a frequenter of many restaurants throughout Marin County. She loved to meet new people and was always the "belle of the ball" when she would join her family for celebrations, frequently delighting everyone she met with her lilting Southern accent ("Can you really tell I'm Southern?" she would innocently ask) and her gracious manner (dozens of professionals and service people would regularly say that she was one of the nicest people they had ever met). Vera will be missed by all who met her and loved her, and remembered for her grace, her boundless generosity, and her deep love for her family. . .who have no doubt that she is by her beloved husband's side once again, charming the wings off of angels. The family will be holding a private service by the graveside, but encourage donations in her memory to Hospice by the Bay, 17 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Larkspur, CA 94939.
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Published in Marin Independent Journal from Oct. 15 to Oct. 20, 2013