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Tuesday March 2nd, 2021 12:36AM

Gainesville businessman, tornado survivor, World War II vet dies

By Ken Stanford Contributing Editor

GAINESVILLE — A Gainesville man who survived the tornado of 1936 and service in World War II and became a successful businessman has died.

Jim Delong, who died July 9 at the age of 94, grew up on Historic Green Street and graduated from Gainesville High School in 1937.  

In an AccessWDUN interview a few years ago, he and George Austin, a childhood friend, recounted the 1936 tornado, saying they were on their way to school, walking through downtown Gainesville, when the twister struck.

DeLong remembered that they took refuge in the Imperial Pharmacy, which was located at Bradford and Washington streets, until the storm passed.

When they emerged, he said you could hardly walk across the downtown square because of the debris. "There was tin and wood and other debris [all over the place]."  (Read more about what he and Austin experienced that morning and in the days that followed, by clicking here.)

During his service in the war, Delong piloted a B-26, flying 73 bombing missions.  Among his missions was participation in the D-Day invasion of France.

After the war,  he entered business with his father and two brothers.  Together they owned and operated DeLong Motors, Inc, (Gainesville's first Buick and GMC dealership) and DeLong Home and Auto Supply.

He was elected to the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Gainesville (Regions Bank) in 1967 and later to the First National Bancorp as a charter board member. He served in this capacity for 21 years.    He was a long-time member and deacon of the First Baptist Church and an active member of the Angler's Sunday School class until February of this year.  

Through the years, Delong regularly volunteered to share his war experiences with school children at the Northeast Georgia History Center.  

The funeral will be at 11:00 Saturday at the First Baptist Church on Green Street.

(A complete obituary can be found on the AccessWDUN Obituaries Page.)

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