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The Long Family

A Dozen Reasons to Give

Patricia (Pat) Long learned at a young age to give to others. “I remember pledging 10 cents a week to the church when I was six years old,” she said. “As a family, we always did things to help other people — it was a way of life.”

Wills Long, a member of the Denver Rotary Club since 1983 and a volunteer for multiple nonprofit organizations, gave two percent of his company’s profits to charity. So it’s no surprise that Pat and Wills are leaving a legacy to the Denver community with the help of their 12 grandchildren.

Born in Springfield, Missouri and raised in Queens, Wills attended a prestigious New York City high school on a full need-based scholarship. “Looking back, that gift made a significant impact on my life,” he said. After graduating from the University of Colorado with degrees in chemical engineering and business, Wills went to work for the Trane Company, a manufacturer of air-conditioning equipment, in Denver. In 1965, Wills left Trane to start his own company, Long and Associates, a supplier of commercial air conditioning equipment. He worked hard to grow his business, and expanded the company from Denver to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. He even groomed his son, Jeff, to take the helm and eventually sold the business to him and two other long term employees in 1992.

Pat was born and raised in Omaha, attended Hastings College in Nebraska, and received a degree in elementary education. She spent five years in California teaching school before moving to Colorado in 1972.

After meeting in a church choir, Pat and Wills married in 1978. A second marriage for both of them, they shared the responsibilities of raising four children. And 27 years later, they are enjoying retirement, skiing in Breckenridge, and trying to keep up with soccer games, basketball games, baseball games, and dance recitals, as 11 of their 12 grandchildren live in Denver.

After Wills retired, he and Pat consulted their estate planning advisor, Tom Rogers. Tom suggested they establish a charitable remainder trust and make The Denver Foundation the beneficiary. After the Longs’ lifetimes, their trust will convert to a donor advised fund at The Denver Foundation and their 12 grandchildren will make decisions about what causes and organizations to support. Each child is named as an advisor of the fund. “We thought this would be a good way for them to learn about philanthropy,” said Pat. “We want them to learn to take care of things beyond themselves.” Wills added. And because the Longs want to be able to help their grandchildren learn about philanthropy, they set up an additional fund to allow the kids to start giving money away now. “This gives us an opportunity to teach them while we’re still alive,” said Pat. The Long grandchildren, ages 3 to 20, are receiving an amazing gift — an opportunity to give to others in the name of their grandparents.

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