He graduated from Coffee High School in Florence in 1945 and was salutatorian of his class. In 1949, he earned a Bachelors Degree in Math and Science while graduating with honors from Florence State Teachers College, now the University of North Alabama. While at Florence State Teachers College, he served as class president and was also active in the student government association, serving as treasurer and later as president.
Judge Long started his work career as a high school teacher in Lawrence County. While attending college, he and his brother, Charles Long, formed a construction company partnership in 1947 which became known as Long Brothers, Inc., in 1963. The company specialized in earthmoving, heavy industrial construction, and real estate development. He served as the company’s president since its incorporation.
Judge Long had planned to study law upon completion of his undergraduate studies and on two separate occasions was accepted for admission to law school, once at the University of Alabama and later at Cumberland School of Law; however, pressing family and business demands prevented him from beginning studies at those times. In 1981, after an absence from the classroom of 32 years, he entered the Birmingham School of Law where he graduated in 1985 and was admitted to the Alabama State Bar that same year. He entered into law practice with Bryce Graham Sr., in Tuscumbia in 1985, and later established an independent law practice in Florence.
In 1991, Judge Long was appointed as Circuit Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Alabama. He served in that capacity until his term ended in 1993. He later served as the chief legal advisor to Governor Guy Hunt.
In 1994, as a result of a statewide election, Judge Long was elected to serve as a judge on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals for a term of six years. He was the first Republican presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals. While serving in this capacity, Judge Long was a member of the Legislative Coordinating Counsel, Judicial System Study Commission, Alabama Law Institute, Judicial Compensation Commission, Committee on Criminal Procedure, 1998-99 Task Force on Intra Bench-Bar Communication, and the Pardons and Paroles Board Nominating Committee.
From 2000 to 2006, he served as an assistant attorney general assigned to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. In that capacity, he was responsible for real estate procurement and other legal matters involving the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Since 2006, Judge Long served as the town attorney for St. Florian.
He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Alabama State Bar, the Lauderdale County Bar Association, the American Judges Association, and the Alabama Cattleman’s Association. Judge Long was admitted to practice in the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama.
Judge Long was involved in community service throughout the years. Included in those activities was his membership on the Board of Directors of the Florence-Lauderdale County Port Authority, a city-county owned corporation providing river terminal facilities to area industry. He was an active founding member of the Cypress Creek Methodist Church in Florence.
Judge Long passed away at UAB hospital in Birmingham at approximately 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012.
He was married to and is survived by the former Katherine Daniel of the Union Chapel community in Walker County. He is survived by his three children, Ralph Daniel Long, an attorney; Francis Allen Long Jr., a medical doctor; and Melissa Jane Long, an attorney. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, Daniel, Rachel, David, Rebecca, Stephen, Michael, Diana, Sara and Francis III and three great-grandchildren. Additionally, he is survived by his sister, Sara Anne Long of Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
He was preceded in death by his parents Ralph W. Long Sr. and Mira Scott Long; and by his brothers Samuel, David, Charles and Ralph Jr.
Visitation for Judge Long will be at Greenview Memorial Funeral Home in Florence today, Aug. 21, 2012 from 5 to 9 p.m. Funeral Services will be conducted at Woodmont Baptist Church in Florence on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, at noon. A Committal Service will be conducted at Union Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery near Jasper on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 at 4 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cypress Creek Methodist Church.
Pallbearers will be Jack Darby, Greg Griffin, David N. Long, David S. Long, Franklin Long, Michael Long, Russell Long and Scott Newman. Honorary pallbearers will be Robert Blackburn, Bill Bowen, Huston Cobb, Bill Creasy, Wayland Darby, Noland England, Ralph Frazier, Harvil Gray, Randy McKinney and Bob Price.
An online guest book may be viewed and signed at www.greenviewmemorial.com.
Greenview Funeral Home, Florence; 256-764-2411