Park donated by veterinarian
Long Park on Patterson Road is used by many valley residents today because of the generosity of veterinarian William James Long.
Dr. Bill, as he was known to family and friends, was born Nov. 27, 1921, to William Alexander and Mollie Feil Long on a farm near Clifton.
Dr. Bill’s mother, Mollie Feil, was born Jan. 10, 1900, in Argentina to Andreas and Catherine Muller Feil. Mollie’s grandparents and their children were among the 100 families that went to Russia with Catherine the Great when she married Peter the Great. The family fled to Argentina when Andreas was in his late teens and all the young German men were about to be conscripted into the Russian Army.
The Feil family came to the United States via Canada in 1904. Around 1905 or 1906, the Feil family heard of the developing sugar beet industry in western Colorado and settled in Austin with their six children. They purchased a large piece of property and prospered at sugar beet farming until one season during the Great Depression, when a wet fall and an early hard freeze hit and they were unable to harvest the beets.
They lost the entire property, home and all. They moved to the Grand Junction area and leased a farm between Grand Junction and Fruita.
William Alexander Long and Mollie Feil married on Nov. 2, 1919, in Austin. They leased a farm outside of Palisade and moved into a tent where their first child, Hazel Rebecca, was born Aug. 1, 1920. When Mollie became pregnant with their second child, she objected strongly to tent living, so they leased a farm north of Patterson Road near Clifton, where William James Long was born.
Later they purchased the 40 acres from Cross Orchard Farm that became the Long Family Farm. William began farming. He also cut trees and trimmed logs from Grand Mesa to construct the family home. Mollie planted roses, shrubs and a long row of peonies and a large garden. William constructed many outbuildings, including a log fruit stand from which Mollie sold fruit and vegetables.
Hazel graduated from Fruitvale High School and went to Bethel College of Nursing, graduating in 1941. She served in the Army Corps of Nursing as a second lieutenant during World War II. After the war she continued her nursing career and in 1952 received a bachelor degree from Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
She retired from the service in 1980 and returned to Grand Junction. She died in 1984.
Bill graduated from Fruitvale High School in 1939 and attended Mesa College for a year before he entered the military in World War II, serving in the Pacific Theater and in Japan with the Army of Occupation. In 1948, he entered the school of veterinary medicine at A&M College in Fort Collins and graduated in 1953.
Before returning to Grand Junction and opening his vet clinic in Fruita, he served as a federal veterinarian in animal disease eradication and meat inspection. After the death of his father in 1962, he moved back to the family farm and continued to practice veterinary medicine in addition to running the farm.
Bill built a new home for his mother, Mollie, and moved into the log home his father had built. He raised cattle, farmed and had his vet practice.
Mollie died in 1975.
When diagnosed with cancer in 2000, Bill’s concern was what to do with the estate. After much discussion with Arlan, my husband, and an attorney, he decided his bank account and investments would be divided between the University of Colorado Bethel College of Nursing and Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine for $5,000 per year scholarships in the name of his sister, Hazel Long Preston, and himself.
The 40-acre property was to be donated to Mesa County for a park with the stipulation that it must be built by 2010 or the property would be sold and the money would go to the scholarship funds. The county has made a beautiful park.
Bill died Sept. 28, 2000, and is buried with his parents and sister at Orchard Mesa Cemetery.
Norma Jean Feil was born and raised on the family ranch near Paonia. She has lived in Grand Junction for many years and is related to the Long family by marriage to Arlan, whose aunt was Mollie Long.