Booneville Mayor Charles E. Long, who was among the longest-serving mayors in the United States, died Saturday at age 99. He had been mayor for 60 years.
Long never ran contested and was “very beloved in this community,” said Owsley County Judge Executive Cale Turner.
Turner said he couldn’t remember a time when Long wasn’t mayor of Booneville, which had a population of 81 at the time of the 2010 census.
He is the longest-serving mayor in the state, according to the Kentucky League of Cities.
Long said in a 2014 Herald-Leader profile that the key to success in politics was to “be honest, be friendly and never meet a stranger.”
“I’ve been community-minded all my life,” he said, adding that at that time he had been serving on the health board in Owsley County for 53 years.
Turner said Long, who would have turned 100 in October, had a sharp mind and was actively engaged in government meetings.
“He knew about the issues that was being discussed,” Turner said.
During a recent visit, Turner said Long expressed concerns about the delay in a local sidewalk project.
Long said in the 2014 article that he was most proud of the work he had done to extend water lines to rural areas of the county where people had previously had to depend on wells and cisterns.
Over a 40-year period he helped bring Booneville Water and Sewer service to 98 percent of Owsley County, as well as parts of Clay, Jackson and Perry counties.
Turner said Long had an easygoing demeanor and didn’t worry about who got credit for successes.
“It wasn’t about politics,” Turner said. “It was just about what was best for the city of Booneville and the county of Owsley.
“He was someone I have a lot of respect for, because he always stood for what was right, and he cared for people.”
Long was a Navy veteran who served aboard a landing craft in the South Pacific during World War II. He owned and operated a service station for many years.
He was married for 72 years to Ruth Long, who died in 2012.
He said in 2014 that his government service was also a way to keep busy after her death.
“I would just go home and sit down and do nothing — I don’t want to do that,” he said at the time. “I’d sit there and grieve myself to death. I loved my wife so much. I just don’t want to sit down and look at the walls.”
Funeral services for Long will be conducted at 2 p.m. Thursday at Booneville Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.