Gerry Long Reiff
Dorothy Geraldine Long Reiff (Geraldine, Gerry), daughter of Joseph Thurman Long, Sr., and Freda Ramsey Long, died February 13, 2022, in Abingdon, Virginia. Born October 7, 1928, in Houston, Texas, she graduated from San Jacinto High School in 1945. After two years at Texas State College for Women (now TWU), she transferred to Southern Methodist University, where she met her future husband, Lee Reiff. In the summer of 1947, she participated in the Methodist Church’s Youth Caravan movement, and she graduated from SMU in 1949 with a major in Religion. Gerry married Lee on August 22, 1950, and they lived together in Dallas for the next four years. She taught second grade in Garland until January 1954. In summer 1954, the Reiffs, now including their son Joseph, moved to Bakerville, Connecticut, where Lee served as a Methodist pastor and began Ph.D. studies in New Testament at Yale University. Their second son James was born in 1955, and they moved to New Haven in 1957.
In 1960 the family moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Lee began his teaching career at Millsaps College. In the 1963-64 school year, Gerry taught first grade at Watkins Elementary School. After living in Abilene, Texas, in 1964-65, the Reiffs returned to Jackson. In the late 1960s, Gerry became involved in the Panel of American Women, an interracial and interreligious organization dedicated to thoughtful dialogue on race relations. Gerry also participated actively in the ecumenical and interracial Church Women United and served a term as president of the Jackson chapter, and she and Lee joined and supported Jacksonians for Public Education.
Gerry did graduate studies in Library Science and worked at the Millsaps Library from the late 1960s through 1992. She was the audiovisual librarian for a decade, and in 1982 she became the archivist for the college and the J. B. Cain Archives of Mississippi Methodism at Millsaps. In the 1980s she began leading workshops in humor and creativity. A longtime member of Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church, Gerry became involved in its Stephen Ministries program. In 1993, Gerry and Lee moved to Lake Junaluska, NC, where she served for ten years as Archivist for the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church and Director of the Heritage Center at Lake Junaluska Assembly. In her work as an archivist from 1982-2002, Gerry found an essential part of her life’s vocation. During their twenty years in North Carolina, Gerry and Lee were dedicated members of Waynesville First United Methodist Church, and Gerry was a sister in Chapter AW of P.E.O. and a member of the Red Hat Society. In 2013, they moved to Bristol, Virginia, and after Lee’s death in 2014, Gerry moved to Abingdon and joined Emory UMC.
In addition to her parents and husband, Gerry was preceded in death by her brother, J. T. Long, Jr. She is survived by son Joe and daughter-in-law Betty Clark Reiff, of Abingdon; son Jim and daughter-in-law Diana Molina Reiff of San Antonio, Texas; grandchildren, Rachel Reiff Ellis and Luke Ellis, Sarah Reiff-Amsden and husband Brian Reiff-Amsden, Joseph Clark Reiff and wife Jenni Seale Reiff, James Tiblier, and Kristen Matta and husband Victor Matta; great-grandchildren Noah, Rosie, and Max Ellis; Amelie, Felicity, and Oliver Tiblier; and Eleanor Matta; nieces Kelley Long Gillespie, Elizabeth Long Davis, and Martha J. Reiff, and nephew Glenn A. Reiff.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 28, 10:00am, at Memorial Chapel at Lake Junaluska, NC, with Rev. David Jackson officiating. Interment of the cremains of Gerry and Lee at the columbarium there will take place in a family ceremony at another time.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Emory United Methodist Church, P. O. Box 985, Emory, VA 24327; First United Methodist Church, 566 S. Haywood St., Waynesville, NC 28786; the SEJ Heritage Center, 125 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 3, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745; or to the Reiff-Lewis Endowment Fund through the Institutional Advancement Office at Millsaps College, 1701 N. State St., Jackson, MS 39210. The family wishes to express deep gratitude to Caris Hospice and to the staff at English Meadows Abingdon Campus for their excellent care of our mother and grandmother since 2015.