Cecil Earl Long, 90, died on September 24, 2020 at the Fountains at the Albemarle retirement community in Tarboro.
Born February 8, 1930 on the family farm near Jamesville, NC, Cecil was the seventh of the eight children of Andrew Mayo Long and Mamie Modlin Long. He attended Jamesville High School and joined the U.S. Army following his graduation in 1948. He served with the Engineering Corps in Alaska and Pusan, South Korea during the Korean War and received an honorable discharge as a sergeant in 1952.
Upon his return home, Cecil enrolled at East Carolina University, where he met Josephine Ardelia “Dee” Harper Long, of Whitakers, NC. They were married on October 26, 1956 in Greenville, NC, and Cecil graduated from ECU with a B.S. degree in Business Administration in 1957. He went on to work as a probation counselor in New Bern and Greenville for eight years before making the transition to secondary education in 1965, when he was hired as a guidance counselor and assistant principal at Rocky Mount Senior High School.
Motivated by his interest in counseling and school administration, Cecil returned to ECU for graduate study. He completed his master’s degree in guidance and counseling in 1967 before moving with his family to Edgecombe County, where he built a career in education that spanned nearly 30 years. He served as principal of North Edgecombe School, West Edgecombe School, and Southwest Edgecombe High School before accepting an appointment as Assistant Superintendent of Edgecombe County Schools in 1987.
Cecil genuinely enjoyed working with students, faculty, and administrators. His calm demeanor and quiet strength made him an effective and beloved leader. For years, he rose early to prepare the school for the day and stayed late to attend parent, teacher or student events, earning a reputation as a stern but fair-minded leader. Highlights from his career included leading the successful consolidation of two rival schools as the first principal of the new Southwest Edgecombe High and several awards, including being named Edgecombe County’s Administrator of the Year (1985) and Principal of the Year (1987).
Cecil was an active member of St. James United Methodist Church, the Golden K Club of Tarboro, and the Edgecombe County Veterans’ Military Museum. In 2002, he was elected as Edgecombe County’s Soil and Water District Supervisor. After he retired from education in 1993, Cecil could often be found outdoors working on one of many landscaping projects in the ever-evolving, award-winning yard at his home, propagating the azaleas and other plantings that he often gave away as gifts, or playing a round of golf. He loved gathering with family and friends over a good meal. His unique brand of good humor and sweet generosity of spirit will be sorely missed.
In addition to his parents, Cecil was preceded in death by his daughter, Rita Ann Long Baker; his sisters Marie Long Watson, Fannie “Sissie” Long Holliday, and Mamie Clyde Long Gardner Fisher; and his brothers William Long, Monnie Long, and Andrew E. Long.
He is survived by his wife, Dee; his sons Steven Brent Long (Beth) and Stuart Bryan Long; his son-in-law, John Baker; his grandchildren Rebecca Baker, Ben Baker, Alex Baker, Zachariah Long (Jessica), and Christine Long; and his sister Maxine Long Milligan (Dewey).
A graveside service will be held at Edgecombe Memorial Park, Highway 258 South in Tarboro at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. Pastor Nathan Wittman will preside. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to St. James United Methodist Church, 211 E. St. James Street, Tarboro, NC 27886.
Arrangements are entrusted to Carlisle Funeral Home, Inc., of Tarboro. Online condolences may be directed to the family by visiting www.carlislefuneralhome.com.
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