Sunday, March 9, 2014
CASCO – Anthony "Tony" Longley had dreamed of flying since he was a boy.
Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.
A longtime construction worker and respected business man, Longley, 58, began taking flying lessons two years ago at Fryeburg Airport. He obtained a student pilot's license that allowed him to fly solo, but he was not permitted to take passengers. He also bartered and traded for a Cessna 172 airplane, which he flew as often as he could.
Longley left work Friday morning for Limington Airport to get his plane ready for a flight to Skowhegan the next day. The plane took off around 1:30 p.m. Friday and started to gain altitude, but the engine sputtered and the plane crashed, according to the York County Sheriff's Office. Longley died in the plane crash. He was the only person aboard the four-seat Cessna.
"My husband died doing what he loved," said his wife, Bonnie Longley, of Casco.
"He absolutely loved flying. He was a good pilot. He had no fear. He was very happy to be up there."
Longley, a longtime resident of Naples, was remembered by his family and friends this week as a well-respected businessman and dedicated family man, who lived life to the fullest.
At age 12, he started working with his father and grandfather to learn masonry and carpentry. He graduated from Lake Region High School in 1973, and then worked as a logger.
He worked for several local companies including, Lake Region Lumber, Burnham Brothers and Dragon Cement. He contributed to several notable projects, including the restoration of Naples Causeway Bridge.
"He always referred to himself as a Naples boy through and through," his wife said.
Longley took over his father's construction business in the early 1990s and started Longley's Caretaking in Casco.
He did construction work and later expanded to include excavations. He owned the business with his wife, who does the gardening and landscaping work. He was also an independent trucker for R.J. Grondin and Sons.
"He loved the work," his wife said. "He loved the people and operating the equipment."
Though Longley's work was an important part of his life, nothing topped his love for his wife and their two children.
The couple dated in high school and got married days after he graduated in 1973. They raised two children. In June, they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. His wife reminisced Tuesday about the life they built together. She said he was an "excellent father" to his daughters, Holly Longley and Dani Longley, both of Naples.
"He was so much fun with the kids when they were young," she said, recalling the winter he built them a snow palace. "He was a great dad. He took them to the ocean, the mountains and skiing. He was very generous. He had a huge heart. When they had problems, he was always there. If they said, 'Dad, I'm short five dollars.' He would give them ten. He was the same with friends."
A large turnout is expected at his service, which will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Hall's Funeral Home on Quaker Ridge in Casco.
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: