News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Saying Goodbye – Emotional service for community leader Mike Long

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

A crowd of approximately 150 people gathered Saturday to celebrate the life of Santiam Canyon community leader Mike Long.

Long, 86, died March 7 after a short battle against leukemia. 

A man whom his granddaughter Jakira Ballard described as a “getter doner,” got it done his whole life, from his work for the U.S. Census Bureau, to the economic research business he and his wife, Jan, founded, to his work in the Canyon once he moved here for good in 1993.

Long served 16 years on the Mill City City Council, 25 years as a board member for the North Santiam Chamber of Commerce and ran the Santiam Canyon Youth Benefit Golf Tournament (YBGT) since its inception in 2000.

Golf played a huge role in Long’s life and in that of his family. Jakira remembered the school bus dropping her off at Elkhorn Valley Golf Course, and Mike and Jan would often golf 36 holes a day, with one memorable 2010 outing at Elkhorn Valley featuring holes-in-one by Mike and Jan on the same hole, No. 12.

And a key part of his legacy will be golf-related. The YBGT, the fundraising tournament that he and Jan started, has raised more than $300,000 to benefit youths throughout the Santiam Canyon.

His grandson Jeff said “I can guarantee you that the next golf tournament will be the best one ever,” while adding that Mike was even “hitting people up for donations when he was in the hospital.”

Terry Fletchall, the retired president and CEO of Santiam Hospital, which played a leading sponsorship role in the YBGT, vowed, to strong applause, that the tournament will be renamed the Michael Long Youth Benefit Golf Tournament.

Thorin Thacker, former councilor and mayor of Mill City, one of the speakers who spoke through tears at the emotional event, praised Long for his political mentorship and said “it was a much better world when Mike was in it.” 

Jakira, whose speech was finished by a family member after she became tearful, concluded “it’s not goodbye, but I’ll see you later, grandpa.”

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