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Auto dealer, community leader Harold DeLong dies

POSTED: May 25, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Harold DeLong, a former Gainesville city commissioner and auto dealer, has died after an extended illness. He was 86.

DeLong was the youngest son of a pioneering auto dealer, Frank W. DeLong Sr., who opened a Hudson-Essex-Terraplane dealership on Main Street in 1921.

A decade later, the company switched to Buick, Pontiac and GMC trucks.

Frank DeLong’s three sons, all aviators in World War II, returned home after the war and joined the family business. The business expanded to include a Firestone tire dealership. DeLong Home and Auto offered a range of merchandise from appliances to boats and eventually included Honda motorcycles.

The car dealership later moved to Broad Street in the current location of Crown Financial Ministries.

Frank Jr., the oldest, operated the Firestone business, which was located near what is now the main entrance to the Georgia Mountains Center.

Harold and his brother, Jim, ran the car business.

"Harold enjoyed the car business, but we were sort of born into it," said Jim DeLong. "It was a good business. Long hours, but a good business."

Harold DeLong retired from the dealership in the early 1970s before the business was sold in 1979.

In 1961, Harold DeLong began six years of service on what was then called the Gainesville City Commission, serving in 1962 as mayor pro tem.

A story in the December 28, 1966, edition of The Times said his fellow
commissioners dubbed him the "fly speck inspector" for his meticulous attention to every detail.

"I didn’t know what it would be like," said Harold DeLong at his final commission meeting in 1966. "It has been truly an education ... there is an awful lot of learning to it."

He later served on the Gainesville Board of Education, including a period as chairman.

DeLong was a football standout at Gainesville High School and stayed on an extra half-year to play an additional season for the Red Elephants.

He attended the University of Georgia and was a member of the SAE fraternity.

Harold DeLong was a deacon and choir member at First Baptist Church on Green Street where his funeral service will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. under the direction of Mason and Ward Funeral Home.

In addition to his brothers, he is survived by a son, Hal DeLong of Gainesville, a daughter, Ginger Jenkins of LaGrange and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia Smith "Ditty" DeLong.



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