Dr. Crawford W. Long, 86: He delivered more than 7,000 babies

Crawford W. Long, named for his grand-uncle, famed surgeon Crawford Long, said being an obstetrician was like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that he got to experience over and over.

“He enjoyed bringing new life into the world,” said his son, George D. Long, who has practiced with his father since the ‘80s. “After delivering a baby, he’d say that patient had created a brand new, unique human being, that had never existed before and that was the most profound thing a person could do.”

An OB/GYN in Atlanta since 1961, Crawford Long delivered an estimated 7,500 babies during his career. While he retired from the day-to-day rigors of the practice in 2006, he saw a few patients up until this summer, his son said.

Crawford Williamson Long, born in Gainesville, Fla., and reared in Jacksonville died Monday at his home in Atlanta, from complications of heart failure. He was 86. A memorial service was held Thursday at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Cremation Society of Georgia was in charge.

“He told me that he knew he wanted to be a doctor since he was 5-years-old,” his son said. “And he never really considered anything else. Now, he was in the United States Air Force for five-and-a-half years, and thought about a, Air Force career, but he had broader interests, is the way he put it.”

After completing his military service, Long went to Tulane University’s medical school and did his OB/GYN internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. He came to Atlanta in 1961 and joined the practice of John McCain; but when McCain became the OB/GYN department chair at then-Crawford Long Hospital in 1970, Long practiced on his own until his son joined him in 1986.

Though Long’s schedule could be unpredictable, his family was his priority, even when the two worlds collided, said his daughter, Christi Long Ashworth, of Loganville.

“I’ll never forget one Christmas, he had to leave three times to go deliver babies,” she said, with a chuckle. “He always hurried back as quickly as he could, but when that third baby interrupted Christmas dinner, I know my mother had just about had enough,” she joked.

In 1950, Long married Annie Francis Dalton, and the couple had three children, but their eldest son, Crawford W. Long, II, died suddenly in 1975 at age 23. The Longs were married 38 years, when Annie Long died from complications of multiple sclerosis in 1988. Four years later, Crawford Long married again and he spent the rest of his days with his second wife, Mimi.

During his career, Long lead the Sheffield Cancer Clinic, which was a state-funded hospital in Atlanta, where he performed a number of operations, his son said. He was also a clinical instructor at Emory University’s medical school was on staff at the former Georgia Baptist Hospital, now Atlanta Medical Center, and most recently at Northside Hospital.

George Long said his father taught him a lot about being a good doctor, and how to treat patients. The love of the practice of medicine and the importance of the patient were among those lessons, he said.

“He would say that the role of a physician was to cure sometimes, relieve often, and comfort always,” his son said. “He would say things like that all of the time, he was just amazing. I hit the lottery when I got my parents.”

In addition to his wife, son and daughter, survivors include, step-children, Bryan Rose and Chandelle Spargo; brother Frederick C. Long; two grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.