A ‘Long’ legacy memorialized at Cottage Theatre

Frank Long’s son Brian Long (left) and Frank’s wife Donna Long take a seat on the memorial bench dedicated to Frank last week.

Family and friends turned out last week to honor local educator, actor and Kiwanian Frank Long as an engraved bench was dedicated to the late community member at Cottage Theatre in an intimate ceremony.

Long passed away June 10, 2021 and a celebration of life was held at the Cottage Theatre in March this year.

Speakers at last week’s commemoration spoke of Long’s dedication to the theater and his impactful presence in the community. 

“I was very fortunate to meet Frank early on when I moved here in ‘89,” said former Bohemia Sunrisers President Gene O’Neil. “He was probably the warmest, most supportive person I could have run into and I was very fortunate to have known him.”

The bench, posted in front of the theater, memorializes Long as a “lifelong thespian and Kiwanian”.

Among his contributions to the community, Long was an important part of the Cottage Grove Bohemia Sunrisers Kiwanis Club.

“As a founder and lifelong member, he occupied a leadership role in the local club many times during the years, as well as taking the leadership reins as lieutenant governor at least twice,” said Diane Murray, former secretary of the Bohemia Sunrisers Kiwanis Club. “He had a special place in his heart for Kiwanis and the Kiwanis goal to change the community and to change the world, one child, one community at a time. He could always be counted on to support club functions to benefit our community and kids; and his rich voice was our irreplaceable lead during our meeting openings when we sang the national anthem.”

Long also had a deep love for the theater and was involved in one way or another with Cottage Theatre for over 30 years, not only on stage as a performer, but also assisting in projects, general maintenance, painting sets and serving on the theater’s board of directors.

“It’s hard to talk about what Frank did here. It’s probably shorter to talk about what he didn’t do,” said Cottage Theatre’s Executive Director Susan Goes. “He is such a legend and his spirit lives on.”

When Goes first came on as executive director in 2007, she said she fondly remembers some board members warning her that Long might ‘drive [her] crazy’ due to his constant presence and commitment to the theater.

“He did follow me around for the first several weeks on the job and it never drove me crazy, because it was so patently clear to me that this theater was his passion,” said Goes. “And he loved it so much. And it has been such a great honor and privilege to help protect that passion for future generations.”

Nothing was too “unglamorous” for him, either, Goes recalled.

“He unclogged toilets. He did it all. And there’s no question that Cottage Theater would simply not be here without Frank. His leadership to build this facility and his longtime leadership on the board of directors really helped create a rich cultural asset,” she said.

Long and his wife Donna were among the first donors to Cottage Theatre’s recent renovation.

Frank Long is also remembered as an influential educator at Cottage Grove High School, using his experience as a newspaper reporter to pass on his expertise in yearbook, photography and journalism.

“Today it is fitting that the Bohemian Sunrisers Kiwanis dedicate this memorial bench for the enjoyment of future theater-goers in remembrance of a man that always had a smile on his face and a song in his heart,” said Murray.