Dr. Charles F. Longino, Jr.
Dr. Charles F. Longino, Jr., Ph.D., ’68, the Washington M. Wingate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Reynolda Gerontology Program, died on Dec. 25, 2008, in Winston-Salem following a brief illness. Longino, a prolific scholar, speaker and author who was a world-renowned expert on aging and retirement migration research, was also Professor of Public Health Sciences at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Influential in and outside of the classroom, Longino wrote countless academic articles, books, chapters and encyclopedia entries, presentations, and amassed millions of dollars in research grants. But more than his body of work, Longino’s colleagues said what set him apart was his ability to synthesize many disciplines — sociology, political science, economics, demographics — into the study of aging.
“My goal,” he once said, “is to bridge between the sciences, and the social sciences on one side, and the humanities of aging on the other. It allows me to be somewhat of a dilettante, to dabble in things that I find interesting.”
Despite his busy schedule, Longino, who came to Wake Forest in 1991, was regarded as a professor who put teaching and students first. “As a freshman,” said former student James O’Neill (’02), in a 1998 article in Wake Forest Magazine, “I was in his class and I had a question. I went back after class just to ask him what was going on, and about five minutes later I found myself sitting at his table, having coffee with him and getting to know him. That was one of the moments I was glad I came to Wake Forest, because I knew I wouldn’t get that kind of contact at another school.” Known for his friendly smile and quick wit, Longino was service-minded and was a fixture at Wake Forest’s Late-Night Breakfasts, preparing food and serving students during exam week. He also enjoyed helping new students and their families on move-in day.
“As a person, he glows, he emanates,” said William J. Hazzard in that same article. Hazzard, an internist and endocrinologist and former director of the J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging at the medical school, added, “He’s just such an easy person to be around, and you feel better to have spent an hour with Chuck Longino.”
Longino taught at the University of Miami and the Universities of Kansas, Virginia, and North Carolina, earlier in his career. In 1967, he received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and in the mid-1970s he was a post-doctoral fellow in the Midwest Council for Social Research in Aging.
He was a fellow and former President of the Gerontological Society of America, and was the North American chair of the International Association of Gerontology from 1989-1993. He served as editor of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences. He was a founding fellow of the Association for Gerontology in higher Education, as well as former president. He served as chair of the Section on Aging and the Life Course of the American Sociological Association, and was former President for the Southern Gerontological Society.
“I’ve been able to move, in my last job, to the place I would want to stay anyway,” Longino said in 1998. “I’ll work until I’m seventy if the University will let me.”