Mountain View Voice

News - April 23, 2010

Former city manager Dick DeLong dies

by Daniel DeBolt

Richard "Dick" DeLong, Mountain View's city manager from 1973 to 1976, died April 11 in his home near San Luis Obispo after a long struggle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 79.

"He's probably the most extraordinary city manager I ever knew," said Phil Rose, an intern and assistant to DeLong during his three years here.

Before running Mountain View, DeLong was the longest-serving city manager of Milpitas, spending 11 years there. He retired in 1990 after 14 years as city manager of San Mateo.

What set DeLong apart was his sense of humor and a love of art. He once had his wife redirect traffic so he could trace an ornate manhole cover onto a piece of felt, which he hung on his wall for many years, Rose said.

While in Mountain View, DeLong had an unusually active internship program, with as many as eight interns at a time. His predecessor, John O'Halloran, usually had only two.

"The organization had a hard time with that," Rose said. "We were sort of unruly. But we got a lot of things done. He was trying to get kids involved in local government."

It worked: Many of those interns went on to become city managers and department heads. Rose became city manager of Placerville, then Los Altos.

Many large city projects were underway with DeLong at the helm, including the revitalization of downtown and the creation of Shoreline Park. But some cited DeLong's biggest accomplishments as more to do with day-to-day activities, such as involving more community members in decisions and making the city budget easier to understand.

Current city manager Kevin Duggan was also inspired by DeLong, who he first met when Duggan was a student at San Jose State University. He went to a career day event and found DeLong sitting behind a table.

"He told me what being a city manager was all about," Duggan said, calling him "encouraging" and an "inspiration."

DeLong's wife Edwina said that during their 56 years of marriage, "It was a really interesting life. I appreciated his world."

"Each city was unique in its own style and you learned about people that lived there," Edwina said. "It was always a joy. He loved his work."

She said the family had a running joke that he could be fired at any given council meeting — even for "parting his hair wrong." But thankfully he never was, Edwina said.

DeLong charmed city councils with his sense of humor. And he loved working through controversies and remaining friends with those he disagreed with, Edwina said.

After DeLong retired from San Mateo in 1990, he traveled the world with Edwina. They bought a Volkswagen camper van in Frankfurt and camped all over Europe "like hippies," she said.

DeLong passed away at a hospital near his home in Arroyo Grande. Besides his wife he is survived by two daughters, Linda and Carol; and two granddaughters, Cora Ann and Theodora Joy. Funeral services will not be held at his request.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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