Rod Longley – Litchfield resident and Longtime Foundation Supporter – Passes Away
Founding American Chestnut Foundation “Connecticut Chapter” member and Litchfield resident Rod Longley, passed away October 18th, his 95th birthday.
I got to know Rod Longley and interact with him over several years when we volunteered together with the CT Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation. I met Rod at a Chapter Annual meeting held in Litchfield at White Memorial in 2003. That meeting represented the beginning of my involvement with restoration efforts, and also the beginning of my relationship with Rod. During my first years of involvement Rod was my primary go to person – a litmus test for ideas about forging the Chapters strategic direction. Rod was tirelessly optimistic and positive unless discussing the Red Sox (“management simply doesn’t know when to remove a pitcher!”). Rod always had ideas for the names of people people to whom I could reach out and ask for assistance with initiatives we’d envisioned. They might be a Newspaper Reporter, a land trust board member, a potential donor, or a landowner interested in using their land for planting a research plot.
Rod had joined TACF in 1991, and was a founding member of the CT Chapter in 1992. He resigned as Director in 2006 after fifteen years as a member, with many of those recently as Director and Vice President. In 2008 we honored him with a lifetime achievement award for his tireless work in promoting the importance of the Chestnut and restoring its ecological role in the forests of New England.
Rod actively planted Chestnut both from the American Chestnut Foundation and the CT Agricultural Experiment Station. Plantings at Topsmead State Park, and White Memorial Conservation Center and Litchfield Hills Audubon’s Boyd Woods Sanctuary were all results of Rod’s interest in planting new and more advanced blight-resistant chestnut. Rod was “Mr. Chestnut of Litchfield.” I learned that he was also an active gardener as told by this quote by John Baker of Litchfield.
Rod was very proud of his blueberry and blackberry patches, surrounded by Eastern Bluebird houses. His crops were so bountiful, friends and neighbors had to come to pick, and he even gave away some of the bushes. One year he coerced me to bring bees to pollinate the blueberries, but I think they were more interested in the Black Locust trees that were blooming nearby and the water in his swimming pool. Rod was also an avid sports fan and rooted for UConn and the Red Sox. In fact, one of his last actions was to watch the Red Sox playoff game the Thursday night before he passed away. Rod was quite a guy and will be missed by many.
A Memorial service is planned for Saturday, November 23rd at the First Congregational Church of Litchfield at 11am.
Contributed by Bill Adamsen, Board Member, CT Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation