Obituary of Garfield Axe-Long
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With a heavy heart, we regret to inform you about the passing of Garfield Axe-Long (Garfield Henry Long, Junior) at the age of 55. It is not enough to say that Garfield was loved by many within the Cherokee community. His talents, charisma and passion have helped shape the modern Cherokee identity for EBCI. Even though he is one of the youngest of the first language Cherokee fluent speakers, he dedicated nearly 25 years of his life to the preservation of the Cherokee language, working for the immersion program since its inception. His efforts likely touched every student of the language in North Carolina and his translations can be seen everywhere, from books and web pages to billboards and road signs. Garfield gave his time freely, accepting texts and calls to translate for anyone at any time. Memories of Garfield extend beyond his language preservation efforts, spanning many passions and hobbies. You would be hard pressed to find anyone with such eclectic taste in music: from Brian Setzer Orchestra and The HU to Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden. No matter the odds or years of struggle, he was a faithful supporter of the Detroit Lions and all local sports. He absolutely loved themed runs/races, like the “80’s flashback”, “Big-foot 5k”, “Zombie runs” or “Mud runs.” As an avid bowler, he played league games with friends that will miss his humor, as well as extraordinary right-to-left spins that demolished the pins. He loved his cars, showing them off or driving them around- they were his beautiful ladies. Adding to the farming legacy on Long Branch, he cared for a variety of critters: rabbits, goats, chickens, ducks, turtles, lizards, dogs, cats and even bees. One of his biggest passions and proudest times in life was his wrestling career. Those that knew him well knew of Johnny Eagle, his stage name when traveling across the country to put on shows. Johnny Eagle personified the romance novel love interest come to life. Women swooned and men booed. He was an entertainer and even started making more Cherokee language videos: from teaching about the weather and animals to the world of TikTok, sharing words from Bigfoot. We are all saddened by the loss of Garfield. It is important to remember that even though we no longer hear him teasing us or teaching new Cherokee words, his legacy is still all around us. Every child that has matriculated from New Kituwah Academy has a word or phrase they learned from him. In that way, Garfield will continue to be heard. The growing number of second language learners all hear his voice, with all its wit and humor, so his philosophies will continue. But it’s more than the notes or stories- his passion needs to grow and expand. He strongly believed that the only people stopping us from learning IS us. Garfield encouraged all teachers of the language as well. He understood that there are many ways to learn and educate, and they all matter. To continue his legacy, we ask that you continue to pass along his philosophy to each other. But don’t forget to have fun and support each other in all that you do. Garfield deeply loved and respected his family most of all. His relatives extended across western North Carolina, with family on the Qualla Boundary and in Snowbird. He was proud of his brothers and all extended family, sharing time with everyone or just checking on everyone over text message or occasional calls. Garfield was preceded in death by his father, Garfield Henry Long, Mother Katherine Wachacha, Grandmother Bessie Long, Grandfather Posey Long, and Uncle, Abel Catolster. Garfield is survived by his Brothers; Charles Welch, James Long (wife Angela) and Timothy Long (wife Shannon), Stepbrothers; Delbert Ross, Deino Panther, Jamey Panther, and Rodney Panther. Other family include Uncle, John Long (wife Donna). As a regular prankster that let kids get away with things, Junior was the “fun” uncle to many nieces and nephews. His laughter and fun were shared with many close friends, including his best friend, Caleb Hickman. Garfield left us with a faith in God from which he has a place in heaven. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 10, 2022, in the Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center, beginning at 2:00pm with Pastor Noah Crowe officiating. Long House Funeral Home assisted the Family with final arrangements.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Garfield Axe-Long, please visit Tribute Store
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center
86 Elk Crossing
Cherokee, North Carolina, United States
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In Loving Memory
1967 - 2022
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Long House Funeral Home
407 Wolftown Road
Cherokee, NC 29710
Phone: 828-497-1408 Fax: (828) 497-2801