On January 1, 2011, The JM Long Foundation and The Vera M Long Foundation merged to form The Joseph & Vera Long Foundation. This new organization continues to honor the legacy of its founders and predecessors by humbly supporting our not-for-profit partner organizations working to improve the communities of Northern California and Hawaii.
About the Founders
Joseph M. Long, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Longs Drug Stores, created his foundation, The JM Long Foundation, in 1966 as a way of giving back to others after receiving so much in his lifetime.
One of seven children, Joe Long was born in 1912 in Covelo, a small agricultural town in Northern California. He picked hops, worked for his father in a small general store, and listened to his mother, who preached a work ethic. After high school, he and his brother, Tom, hitched a ride on a milk truck to attend the University of California at Berkeley, where they worked their way through college. In 1932, he graduated in political science and went on to serve as the Assistant City Manager of Berkeley, where he was responsible for the establishment of the East Bay Regional Parks. Later, he became the founding Chairman of the California State Parks Foundation.
Joe had an entrepreneurial spirit and he embarked on many business ventures in different industries. While he achieved much success in business, he found personal enjoyment in activities such as hunting, fishing, and music.
As Chairman of the Board of Longs Drug Stores, he noted:
"In everything we have done, I have never forgotten my mother's admonitions about caring for people: caring for those who work with us, caring for those we work for, caring for our fellow man. We go through this life but once. If there is anything we can do, or help that we can give, let us do it now, because we may not pass this way again."
He is listed by Harvard Business School as one of the Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century.
Vera M. Long, a philanthropist and board activist, established The Vera M. Long Foundation in 1988 so that she could fund the growing number of projects that interested her. She was born in 1913 in Anadarko, Oklahoma. The middle child of three, she went with her family to Idaho, where they lived on a homestead for several years. Clothing was made from flour sacks, food was scarce, and winters were harsh. Her father, M.B. Skaggs, dug wells in the region until he accumulated enough money to move the family into town and start his first grocery store. Success followed, and he brought the family to the West Coast, where he established Safeway Stores.
As a young woman, Vera Long was adventuresome and independent. She loved riding horses, and she won many ribbons in shows. After high school, she went to Mills College in Oakland, CA, where she graduated with a B.A. in home economics. While enrolled in a course to become a secretary the next year, she met Joe Long, whom she married in 1936. The couple had four children, and she spent many years as an at-home mother.
In her later life, Vera became active in the community and in her church. She joined the boards of Mills College and Oakland Children's Hospital, where she served for many years. She especially was concerned about issues of health and education, and her primary interest groups were women and children. Her generosity, common sense, and dedication were much appreciated by those who worked with her.