LEOMINSTER — Thomas “Tommy” Allen Long was a family man and Freemason with strong connections to the North Central Massachusetts region.
Sadly, Long died on August 26, 2021, at the age of 37, a few days after a motorcycle accident that happened on Route 140 North on the causeway near the Old Stone Church.
On Saturday, Aug. 26, motorcycle riders from Leominster and throughout Massachusetts converged on Wilder Masonic Hall at 69 West St. for the 2nd annual Tommy Long Memorial Ride. Long was an active member of the Leominster Lodge, which was his home lodge.
Funds raised by the ride go to a college fund for Long’s daughters Hannah and Natalie, who are aged five and seven, as well as to reduce the financial burden on his widow Emily.
Approximately $6,000 has been raised thus far over the two years of the ride.
The motorcycle ride was the idea of Greg Steward, a fellow Freemason at the Wilder Lodge who at the time of Long’s death was the Presiding Master, to honor the memory of a dear friend and loved Masonic brother lost far too soon.
As the leader of the lodge, Steward felt the need and obligation to do something to assist Long’s family.
“This is the Leominster community and Massachusetts Freemasonry at its finest. Never forgetting your friends and never forgetting their families, especially in a time of need and when they need us the most,” said Joe Firmani, another Freemason at the lodge who was friends with Long.
Long was the Secretary for Wilder Lodge and was hugely well-liked, bringing energy and a great sense of humor to meetings, with a personality that was “as large as some of the halls themselves” according to Firmani, and it was “impossible not to be his friend.”
“When someone like Tommy touches everyone that he meets, it’s hard not to honor his memory. Tommy was one of a kind and his family lost him too early in life. We are Tommy’s fraternal brothers and have all sworn an oath to ensure his widow and orphans are cared for in his absence. As a friend, it’s humbling to simply keep his memory alive and bring some peace to his family who have suffered the greatest loss,” said Gary Petit, a member of Wilder Lodge in charge of the Freemasonry district when Long was killed.
Long was also an avid motorcycle rider and like Freemasonry or similar fraternal organizations, “riders have a brotherhood and a connection that runs deep,“ Firmani said. “Fundraising is part of the motorcycle community; when the cause is right, the riders turn out. They pay to ride, they make personal donations, and they pay to enter raffles knowing their hard-earned money is going to support those in need. “
When word got out about the first event, all of Long’s community stepped up to support Long and his family, from volunteers that helped organize the event to others that provided additional donations.
“The community showed its love,” Firmani said. And they have been doing so ever since.
“It’s what he would do for all of us,” Petit said.
At the time of Long’s death, he had lived in Lancaster, but his wife and children have since moved to Westminster. He was originally from Maine, where his parents and brother still live. Long was a graduate of Bowdoin College with a Bachelor’s in Math and Russian, and was employed as a Senior Program Manager at Emeritus.
According to his obituary, he was an “adoring father to his two little girls and made sure that their love of all things girly was well balanced with wrestling figures, sports, and rough housing” and was the “fun uncle” to seven nieces and nephews. Long’s family remains part of the event.
“Emily has many wonderful memories of the Lancaster home she shared with Tommy. We honor those memories and his home prior to his passing” by riding by the address during the motorcycle procession, Petit said.
The annual event is always the Saturday closest to Long’s death. The third ride will be on Aug. 24, 2024.
Those who would like to donate can send a check made out to Wilder Lodge and designated to the Orphan’s College Fund.
Firmani said that all lodges have a Widow’s Committee to do ongoing checking-in on a members’ families after they pass and will help take care of anything if there’s a need; whether that’s with money or help around the house.
“The families of Freemasons are just as valued as the Masons themselves; they sacrifice quite a bit, especially for very active members. Their support allows us to be charitable and contribute to the community — if it wasn’t for that support, Masonry would not be the organization it is today,” Firmani said.
Wilder Lodge has been a strong presence in Leominster for over 150 years with members spanning generations of Leominsterites.
All inquiries for Wilder Lodge can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find the lodge on Facebook at @wilderlodge.