Longino died Aug. 20 at Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton of COVID-related illness. He was cremated, and a private memorial service was held Aug. 28 in Wedowee, Alabama. He and his wife Gloria owned a lake house on Lake Wedowee, about 40 miles west of the Georgia border, and spent most of their time there in recent months due to the pandemic.
A College Park native, Longino was born Nov. 6, 1953. He had deep roots in the community: his great-grandfather, George, also served as mayor, from 1914-1918.
As a teenager he started working as an auto mechanic, and in his 20s, he bought the small shop in downtown College Park. He renamed it Longino Automotive Service, built a five-bay expansion next door, and worked there from the 1970s through his years as mayor until his recent retirement.
“He loved his cars, his boats, his tractors. He loved working on them,” recalled his daughter, Jessica Woodring of Newnan. “He was very particular. He liked things his way, but made sure you understood why it was his way.”
She said he enjoyed restoring boats and cars. One of his favorite projects was a red 1967 Corvette Stingray convertible that he drove only in College Park parades.
Longino began his political career in 1992 as a city councilman. After one term he ran for mayor and won, and served six consecutive terms.
His legacy includes several major city projects and recognition for being a force for unity and cooperation in south metro Atlanta.
“When he had a vision and a goal, he was a great force to have on your side,” said Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission. “Jack was a bulldog about trying to make College Park a premiere city for all of his constituents.”
“Mayor Longino was always a team player,” said Artie Jones, College Park’s economic development director. “He always looked at uniting the surrounding communities. He always said what’s good for College Park is good for East Point, what’s good for East Point is good for Hapeville and what’s good for Hapeville is good for College Park.”
Earnestine Pittman, mayor of neighboring East Point from 2010-2014, said “If I had a question he would answer to the best of his ability and point out things, cause he had been mayor for so, so, so long. He loved College Park, that was for sure.”
Part of his legacy is being a strong backer of the $1.5 billion Six West mixed use development, formerly known as Airport City, a public-private partnership under construction on more than 300 acres of city-owned property. Jones said plans are for 2.3 million square feet of office space, 70,000 square feet of retail space, 1,300 hotel rooms, and entertainment attractions.
Longino and his team also helped shepherd into being the Georgia International Convention Center and the Gateway Center. The latter is the home of the Atlanta Dream WNBA basketball team and the Atlanta Hawks development team, and also hosts other events.
Hooker credited Longino largely for the pedestrian bridge to be built connecting downtown College Park to the convention center.
“That was largely Jack making that happen,” he said.
Longino was defeated in a runoff in 2019 by Bianca Motley Broom, who became the first woman and first African American to be elected mayor of College Park.
Survivors include his wife, Gloria Bruce Longino of Wedowee; his mother, Rosemary Longino of Union City; daughters Jessica Woodring (Michael) and Whitney Owens (Brannon), both of Newnan; grandchildren Brylee, Kaylee, Brooks, Gunner, and Hadlee; and brothers Steve Longino of Alpharetta; Bill Longino (Leigh) of Cumming; and Paul Longino (Cathy) of College Park.