Gary Long, former president of PSNH, dies from sudden illness at age 63
Gary Long, president and chief operating officer of Public Service of New Hampshire talks gets ready to announce Thursday June 27, 2013 in Hooksett, N.H., the company's plans to change the route and bury roughly eight miles of transmission lines of the Northern Pass project carrying high-voltage, Canadian hydroelectric power through the state. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Gary Long, the former president of Public Service of New Hampshire, died at his Manchester home yesterday afternoon from a sudden illness. He was 63.
Long was surrounded by his immediate family, including his wife, Mary, and his children, said PSNH spokeswoman Lauren Collins.
“It was all about his family,” Collins said. “We are all very shocked.”
Long started at PSNH – the state’s largest utility – as an assistant engineer in 1976. In 2000, he took over as the company’s president and chief operating officer and led the company for the next 13 years, overseeing PSNH’s transition through the restructuring of the state’s utility industry.
In that role, Long got to know company employees and made customers his top priority, said Bill Smagula, a PSNH vice president.
“Gary was very focused on his family and the company that I think he looked at in some ways as his other family,” Smagula said.
“The word family, we don’t toss around lightly, it was very much the ideology he fostered at PSNH,” added Terry Large, a PSNH employee.
The year after Long took over as president, PSNH was named a “Best Company to Work For” and Long was named Business Leader of the Year by Business NH Magazine in 2006. He stepped down from his executive roles in 2013, but stayed with the company to oversee the controversial Northern Pass transmission line project. He retired in June.
Throughout his 38 years at PSNH, Long – who was an Eagle Scout and veteran of the U.S. Air Force – always focused on doing the right thing, Large said.
“When it came to caring for the needs of the customers, his leadership of the employees of PSNH . . . that was always first and foremost in any conversations,” he said.
“Gary was woven into the fabric of the company,” Smagula said. “He was the company in many ways for so many years.”
Outside of PSNH, Long was involved in philanthropic endeavors. He served as chairman of the board of directors for Granite United Way, where he had been a board member for seven years.
“Gary has been the greatest example of a philanthropist and a mentor I have ever worked with,” said Patrick Tufts, president and CEO of Granite United Way. Long was the first one in and the last one out of board meetings, Tufts said. “He was personally incredibly generous with his time and resources.”
Long had also been a member of the Manchester Development Corp. board, the Amoskeag Industries board, the board of directors of Junior Achievement of New Hampshire and several other organizations, according to a Granite United Way release.
“Gary cared deeply about his local community, the state of New Hampshire, he really cared about his family,” Tufts said. “That was the driving force, he loved his family and his employees.”
In Long’s closing comments at his retirement party in June, he thanked all the PSNH employees for their support and for looking out for one another, Large said.
“What he did as a leader was look out for us,” Large said. “He passed the torch to us to continue that tradition.”
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at email@example.com.)