LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Family and friends believe William Long was healthy enough to live many more years until the great-grandfather contracted the West Nile Virus in Louisville.
His family said it was a battle to get him tested and diagnosed with the virus. They gathered to honor his great life at Pearson Funeral Home.
"Very kind, down to earth guy that never sought the spotlight," said his only son, Glenn Long.
William Long, 84, fought lived a life filled with civic and athletic accolades.
"His most cherished achievement is the family that he raised and all of the extended family that he raised," said Long.
Glenn Long said his father "Bill" suddenly died last month after contracting the West Nile Virus. He was bit by a mosquito in the backyard of his Highlands home in the summer. Family noticed that he was extremely ill on the night of his 60th wedding anniversary in Bardstown.
"He went into the emergency room and he was admitted two more times before he was so weak they had to put him on life support," said Long.
His wife, Dr. Betty Wolfe Long, and family said he lost his appetite for weeks before the hospital visits. He finally received a spinal tap and tested positive for West Nile. But his life has been quite the journey.
William Long ran from his late 40's to his late 70's. He competed in the first 31 Kentucky Derby mini-marathons and in 22 full races.
He was a Cards fan who graduated from the University of Louisville in 1950. He taught math and started the cross-country program at Male High School in the 1960's. A civic leader, he served on the Board of Directors of the Southeast YMCA. His uncle was president of Churchill Downs in the 70's. William Long retired from JCPS as principal of Myers Middle School in 1988.
"A really great father, great husband and great school administrator, said Long.
But there is one thing his son wished they could have done together.
"Probably sharing a nice cold beer with him. That was one thing I was looking forward to," said Long.
Visitation is Wednesday from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Pearson's Funeral Home in St. Matthews. There will be a private memorial and burial Thursday. Expressions of sympathy can be made to the Salvation Army and Wayside Christian Mission.
Metro Health & Wellness says there are 12 confirmed cases of the West Nile Virus in Kentucky and four in Metro Louisville that have been lab-tested, this year.