Beverly Benson Long of Atlanta, Georgia, died Friday October 30, 2015, at her residence surrounded by her family. A memorial service was held at Lenbrook on Peachtree Road in Buckhead Georgia on November 5, 2015.
Ms. Long valued education and earned numerous degrees: Bachelor of Science from the University of Georgia in 1941, Master of Science in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1942, and Master of Science in Psychology from the University of Georgia in 1959. She was presented with an honorary doctorate from Emory University in 2007 with special recognition for her advocacy for mental health.
Long advocated in the civil rights movement in Athens and Atlanta in the late 1950's and early 1960's as President of Help Our Public Education (HOPE), where she spearheaded the effort to keep Georgia's public schools open during court-ordered integration. Her experience in desegregation provided the benchmark for her life and work.
Long was one of the world's leading advocates on behalf of mental health and the rights of persons with mental illness. She served as President of the World Federation for Mental Health; President of the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) of Atlanta and Georgia; Chair of the first Georgia Governor's Advisory Council on mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse, 1975 to 1978; and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the 1977/1978 President's Commission on Public Health. Long served on countless boards and councils advocating prevention of mental and behavioral disorders. She provided inspiration and support for the Rosalynn Carter Endowed Chair for Mental Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
Long loved travel, adventure, art, music, designing clothes, and bargains. She loved her blended family formed in 1963 when she married Maurice Wayne Long.
Long is preceded in death by her parents Charlotte Moor Benson and William Howard Benson of Athens, Georgia.
Long is survived by her husband, Maurice Wayne Long, of Atlanta, Georgia; her children, Theodore Douglas Downing (Rita) of Roswell, Georgia; Beverly Patricia Downing of Atlanta, Georgia; Anne Catherine Long Key of Fernandina Beach, Florida; Elizabeth Long Rice (Drew) of Smyrna, Georgia; grandchildren Michael Wilds Davidson (Lori) of Athens, Georgia; James Jeffrey Rice and John Andrew Rice of Charleston, South Carolina; Christopher Drew Rice of Buena Vista, Colorado; and Anna Sophia Downing of Atlanta, Georgia; great-grandchildren Mattie and Wilds Davidson of Athens, Georgia; brother Howard Edsel Benson (Robin) of Athens, Georgia; niece Sally Benson Cavanaugh (Larry) of Atlanta, Georgia; and nephew Lawrence Reese Benson of Athens, Georgia.
The family specially thanks devoted caretakers Latasha Patterson and Ida Sarr of Atlanta, Georgia.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Carter Center, 453 Freedom Parkway, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30307.
3/17/1920 - 10/30/2015
Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Nov. 6, 2015.