Colleen Long (October 18, 1932-January 6, 2019) described her life thusly:
I was born in Seattle and it’s where I grew
Raised right in the city and my parents were, too.
In a school called the Immaculate I learned to read and pray.
And for thirty years I taught reading at B.F. Day.
Then went on to Lifetime Learning where I found my bliss—
Writing skits and stories and silly poems like this.
Colleen was the quintessential 20th-century single woman. She had the means, the feminist beliefs, and a teaching profession to strengthen her resolve. Her life was shaped by being an only child, and then altered by her contraction of polio at age eleven. One of the fortunate ones to receive Sister Kenney’s treatments, she recovered to the extent that the effects of the disease were invisible, although they left her weak and with pain for the rest of her life.
After struggling mightily in her early twenties with addiction to tranquilizers and alcohol, and in and out of sanitariums and hospitals, one day at a sanitarium window she saw below an elementary school’s playground. The sight of the school inspired her to hope that one day she might have a life as a teacher—a normal life. That’s when she found recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. This is not to say it was easy for her. It took her seven years to gain one year of continuous sobriety. It would be the first of many years, for when she passed, she was fifty-four years sober.
Recovery did indeed make for a successful teaching career, and it also enabled her to travel to Europe, Greece, Egypt, Istanbul, Hong Kong, and many other places, including many in the United States and Canada, traveling as much as she could before she could no longer handle the physical fatigue of it. Recovery also gave her many friends, friends in AA, at St. Patrick’s, Bayview Manor and Lifetime Learning. It enabled her to be a good friend to those who loved and needed her. “As a member of AA, I can gratefully say that my life has been a success, that out of the mire of failure, shame, fear and self-hatred, I was lifted up and placed with people who taught me to love, and where I learned that God loves me just as I am no matter what was in my past or how many mistakes I’ve made ever since….”
Colleen’s memorial will take place at 2:00 PM on Monday, January 22, at Bayview Manor, 11 West Aloha St., Seattle, Washington.
Condolences to the Long family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your whole family. Psalms 147:3 says God, "heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds." May God bring you comfort and peace.
- Williams Family
I was reviewing my mother's obituary at Legacy when I stumbled upon Colleen's name and realized that the Colleen Long I had known passed in January 2019. I last saw Colleen about 5 years ago at a luncheon for BF Day School retirees. At the time, she had invited us to come see her at Bayview and enjoy the activities she was participating in with other residents. She seemed very pleased with her life in this retirement facility and I was happy for Colleen.
I began my teaching career at BF Day Elementary School in Seattle where I met Colleen in January 1970, almost 49 years earlier from the day she passed. She was a reading teacher and worked well with individual and smaller groups of students needing guidance with reading. Colleen had a great sense of humor and an enjoyable personality but often kept to herself so when I read her obituary I learned a lot of information that was new to me. I am glad she saw the light to become a teacher as I am sure she has many former students that learned plenty from Miss Long. The impact she made on her students is a very lasting legacy. God bless you Colleen, may you rest in peace.