Sep. 1—EBENSBURG, Pa. — Former Cambria County District Attorney and President Judge Dennis Gerard "Gerry" Long died at age 84 on Thursday after a brief illness and hospital stay.
His son, Heath Long, who is currently Cambria County's first assistant district attorney, recalled his father as "maybe the greatest administrator" and "an amazing athlete" who possessed "a certain way with people" and was "very much for the underdog."
"He was born to be in charge of things and organize things," Heath Long said. "What he put in place as DA, many of them didn't change because that's how it should be run. And when he became president judge, it was kind of the same thing. He loved to be president judge and be in charge of the different divisions. He just thought it was what he was born to do."
Shortly before Long retired from the bench in January 2010, he told The Tribune-Democrat that he traced his stances on crime back to the lessons learned from his parents.
"We were poor, but they worked hard, were church-goers and believed in right and wrong," he said at the time. "It was instilled in their kids."
Long was born in New Germany, where he still lived at the time of his death.
He attended Central Cambria High School, went to Brown University on a football scholarship, graduated from Duquesne University School of Law and started practicing law in the 1960s.
Long became district attorney in the mid-1970s and then president judge in 1992.
Long guided numerous lawyers and other people in their careers, including current Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky, who previously served as jury commissioner.
"We took the jury commissioner elected position to a whole other level with his mentoring and leadership and just solid advice," Chernisky said. "He had an open-door policy. He'd share ideas. He was just a great mentor. He's going to be missed. He did a lot of good for Cambria County. He thought out of the box."