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Enduring Influence: Bill and Betty Long

Fifty-two years. That’s how long Greater Atlanta Christian has been transforming children into young men and women of leadership and character. While there have been many friends and families from the beginning as well as recent years who’ve blessed the school, few have been more vested throughout the five-plus decades than the Bill Long family—for four generations including children, grandchildren...and great-grandchildren.

Bill was the younger brother of first President Jesse Long. From the birth of GAC and still today, Bill and his gracious wife Betty support GAC, with vision, heart, gifts, and encouragement. Recently, in honor of the legacy of both Bill and Betty, their family honored them with the establishment of the Bill and Betty Long Scholarship Fund, providing financial aid for GAC Alumni who wish for their own children to attend Greater Atlanta Christian School. Family members offered two main reasons for setting up the scholarship fund. “First of all, we want to honor GAC. The education and experiences from our time at GAC have been lifechanging for all generations of the Bill Long Family, and continue to influence all of us, even today. Another reason is to honor our dad and Betty for the loving examples they are to us and for the many contributions our dad has made over five decades to this school. Dad and Betty are deserving of honor and we feel grateful to show appreciation to them in this small way.”

Bill’s connection to GAC precedes even the school’s opening. He participated in the planning that birthed what would be far more than “just another Christian school”. In the early 60s, Bill was an Atlanta minister. Then he left Atlanta for a few years, both to minister and serve as president of another Christian school that had been in existence since the early 1900s. That time of firsthand leadership elsewhere expanded Bill’s outlook on how GAC could thrive for the future. Returning in 1971 to minister in what is today North Atlanta Church of Christ, he preached and ministered until he retired. Yet Bill says — what really drew him back to Atlanta was GAC.

Bill’s family always stayed involved. He gave the first baccalaureate speech for a GAC graduating class. Bill served as Campaign volunteer and chairman on multiple fundraising campaigns. He made scores of speeches and personal appeals for support to help GAC reach its best. Bill volunteered as dad throughout his two boys’ school years. In 1977, he was named to the GACS Board of Trustees, and still serves today, often offering just the right faith-filled clarity that the Board and President need. In later years, he advised GAC’s second president, Dr. David Fincher, who welcomed Bill’s wisdom and clear vision in shaping the school’s future. David commented that Betty has been such a supporter and encouragement to him in every way he could imagine. Bill and Betty have had four grandchildren graduate from GAC, and last year a great-grandchild became a student in GAC's Young Learners.

Thanks to the Bill and Betty Long Scholarship Fund, the family’s care and influence will be felt for decades to come. The new fund will provide a scholarship every year in perpetuity to a deserving student who could not otherwise be at GAC.