Remembering Diane Longley, a Woolwich ‘inspiration’

Posted:  Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 7:45am
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Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry presents Diane G. Longley with the department’s 2010 Citizen of the Year award. Courtesy of Joel Merry

Woolwich’s Diane G. Longley always said, if you see something that needs doing, go do it — don’t wait for somebody else, longtime friend Arlene Whitney recalled Tuesday. Longley, 79, died Saturday.

She and others the Wiscasset Newspaper contacted said the Bath-raised Longley saw a lot of things that needed doing, and then did them. Woolwich Select Board Chair David King Sr. said the state probably would have put the rumble strip on Route One eventually, but probably not as quickly if not for Longley. “She kept on (the state) until they did it ... She probably saved a lot of lives,” he added.

Whitney said Longley gathered signatures at the swimming hole behind the municipal building, made posters and got Maine’s television stations and other news media to do stories about the need for the strip to improve safety. Longley showed that one person can make a difference, Whitney said.

King called Longley an amazing woman who had a lot of enthusiasm and did a lot of good for Woolwich. He recalled her and Whitney working all one summer trying to find a place for public water access in town.

Responding by email, Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry described Longley as a wonderful lady. “While I had known her for many years dating back to when I worked for the Bath Police Department, it was once I became Sheriff ... that I really got to know Diane. She was a ‘hawk’ in observing and reporting speeding violations in her Woolwich neighborhood. Always concerned about the potential for accidents and people being hurt.

“She was also acutely aware that seniors who were living alone needed to be checked up on.  She was instrumental in developing our Good Morning Program,” Merry continued.  “The program is tailored after other check-in programs where a registered senior citizen living alone can call a specified phone number daily and leave a message that they are OK and everything is fine.  The messages are checked daily by volunteers ... If they don’t hear from someone, they notify the communications center and a deputy is sent out to check on the person.” The Sheriff’s Department made Longley its Citizen of the Year in 2010.

Merry said Longley used to call him to make sure he was aware of the latest developments in Woolwich and share her thoughts and opinions on how those things might affect public safety. 

“I was saddened to hear of her passing and will fondly remember our many conversations.  My thoughts are with her family and many friends at this time,” Merry wrote.

Whitney’s daughter Diana Garnett of Woolwich credits her passions for music and animals to Longley. Longley took her to Bath Municipal Band and Portland Symphony Orchestra concerts, and went to concerts Garnett was in; Garnett learned about animal care at Longley’s Old Stage Road, Woolwich farm. A goat was born there a week ago for the first time in about 35 years, Garnett said.

Longley was very humble and didn’t do the rumble strip campaign or other things for attention, Whitney and Garnett said. They said her motivation was  always to make people safer or make their lives easier. “She was really an inspiration,” Garnett said.