Remarkable, impactful Rose Landry Long has passed after an incredibly courageous, faith-filled 11-month struggle with brain cancer. She was 69 when she slipped away Sunday morning at 7:30. The influence she (and her husband, now state Sen. Gerald Long) had on hundreds of Northwestern State student-athletes was immense and often life-altering.
For nearly 20 years, they were the Huddle Leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at NSU, and in this part of Louisiana, extending into dozens of high schools in the area. They commuted from their residence in Ruston for several years, while seeing their own children through high school and college, and ultimately relocated to Natchitoches to a lovely lakeside home a short drive from their beloved alma mater’s campus.
Visitation is Wednesday evening from 5-9 at the Longs’ church, the First Baptist Church of Natchitoches. The funeral is Thursday morning at 10 in NSU’s Prather Coliseum.
A steady stream of tributes have poured in through calls, texts, and social media posts. To capture the love and admiration ever-present in this outpouring, we’re sharing the reflections of two Lady Demon competitors who became FCA leaders and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with “Mrs. Rose. As you’ll see, she continues to influence their lives, and countless others, for generations to come.
First, from Ruston, memories from Linzie Ledfort Hebert, a former NSU cross country and track competitor who is married to former Demon football player Jeremy Hebert. They have four children. She wrote:
Mrs. Rose was selfless, encouraging, humble, hospitable, and courageous, a woman who lived for the Lord. She had a contagious smile and a peaceful spirit. Along with her husband Gerald, she took to the athletes on campus, feeding us literally and spiritually year after year until we graduated, married another FCA leader, or both. They were the best matchmakers!
The first FCA camp Jeremy and I worked together, I knew he wanted my (phone) number, but I was so nervous that I couldn’t bear to have the impending conversation. So, I retreated to Mrs. Rose and engaged her in an unimportant discussion. Jeremy, unwavering, proceeded after me and said with my back facing him, “Mrs. Rose, she’s trying to avoid me.”
Mrs. Rose looked me straight in the eye and said, “And there is no reason she should be!,” with a half-cocked smile.
Some of my favorite memories were hearing her read ‘The Cajun Night before Christmas’ in full south Louisiana accent for all of the FCA crew before we left on Christmas break every year. This is a tradition we now have every Christmas Eve in our own family.
Every single Sunday the leadership team would sit on the floor of her living room visiting, doing Bible study, and praying earnestly for whatever we needed to pray over until late in the evening with no feeling of intrusion or any rush to go home.
I specifically remember driving myself or other inconsolable, heartbroken girls to her doorstep at any time of the day for wise counsel. I have Mrs. Rose to thank for encouraging me to give Jeremy the chance he deserved. Boy, was she right.
I will never forget how special I felt when she faithfully showed up to watch me run at every single home meet at NSU.
I did not understand her sacrifice at the time, but now as a grown woman, I realize how much she poured out to so many of us.
Mrs. Rose and Mr. Gerald, you changed our lives with your love. We will be forever grateful and hope only to pass on the gift to others.
I’ll always hold on to your written words:
“May you and Jeremy be willing to allow the Lord to pour into your life so that you can pour into others. Love, Rose”
Celebrate a race well run, Mrs. Rose! Until we meet again…
– Linzie Ledford Hebert, cross country and track athlete, 2001-05; wife and mother of four
From Baton Rouge, LSU assistant softball coach Lindsay Leftwich:
Rose Landry Long single-handedly changed the course of my life! She didn’t just leave her mark, she made a massive dent. I spent many moments crying on her couch (with a problem that I’m sure she wanted to laugh at), fishing off her dock, eating any meal she cooked, and soaking up as much knowledge from her as possible.
She loved us unashamedly and made sure we knew our worth was found not in what we did, but in who we are. She made it her mission to make sure every single college kid that walked into her home knew how much she loved them, but more importantly how much Jesus loved them.
FCA leadership meetings and Bible study on the floor of her living room were just as regular as practices and trips to the training room. We spent hours at her feet learning about Jesus, about life, and most importantly how to be strong women who could share our faith through way more than words.
In my fifth year at NSU, I interned with the North Louisiana FCA, a job which was supposed to be days filled with me stuffing “ask” letters, inviting people to banquets, and organizing high school FCA visits. Most days it turned into Mrs. Rose bringing me some delicious homemade lunch, and talking about Jesus and my teammates and how great of a husband Gerald Long was! I would have to pry myself away and go to practice, but somehow most of us ended back at their house before the night was through!
She followed me all over Louisiana watching us play and was always waiting to hug me and tell me how great I was, whether I went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4 (I’m pretty sure she promised my mom she would do that when I signed with NSU!).
Spending so much time doing life with her has influenced into how I coach my players, how I share Jesus with them, and forever solidified the importance of FCA in my life and its influence on my team.
I can’t adequately express in words what she did for me and so many of us at Northwestern State, but I am 100 percent positive her ‘Circle of Influence’ is larger than she could have ever imagined!
– Lindsay Leftwich, NSU softball infielder, 2001-05; now an LSU assistant coach