Teresa “Terry” Lozano Long, who with her husband gave millions to education and the arts and was awarded the National Humanities Medal at the White House in 2019, died in Austin on March 21 at the age of 92.

UT Health San Antonio’s medical school is named for Long and her husband, Joe. The Longs first donated $1 million to UT Health San Antonio in 1999 to support scholarships for medical students from South Texas and donated $25 million in 2008 to expand scholarships for Texas students studying to be physicians, nurses, physician assistants, or researchers.

In 2017, the couple donated an additional $25 million to UT Health San Antonio to establish several endowments within the medical school. The Longs have donated over $70 million to UT Health San Antonio over the past two decades.

“She wanted people to have a chance,” UT Health San Antonio President Dr. William Henrich told the San Antonio Report. “She came from very modest beginnings in growing up in a rural community in South Texas, and she was always mindful of the fact that not everybody has an equal chance to achieve. So she saw these scholarships as a way to help [other students] and at the same time give back to communities which otherwise might not have had people come back to them.”

The Longs also donated $10 million to the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LILAS), located at University of Texas at Austin. Terry Long was the first Mexican American woman to earn a doctorate in health and physical education from UT and was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010.

Virginia Garrard, former director of LILAS and a UT history professor, described Long as having a bright personality, a love for education and art, and being devoted to her husband of 63 years. Joe Long was at his wife’s bedside holding her hand as she died peacefully.

“Theirs was the love story of the 20th century,” Garrard said. “They loved each other so much and it was so clear.”

Garrard said Terry Long would call the institute every couple of months to discuss going ons and any tidbits of news she’d heard about LILAS – something she did with all the organizations she donated to. 

“Sure they gave a lot of money, that’s part of it, but it was also that they cared,” she said. “They kept up with what we were doing, and paid close attention, and they treated us like we knew what we were doing. They didn’t try to tell us what to do with their funds, but they cared.”

Born in the South Texas town of Premont, Long grew up on her parents’ dairy farm, graduated from high school as valedictorian at16 and went on to earn her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in kinesiology from UT. 

Long moved to Alice, where she taught P.E. to junior high students for several years and met fellow educator Joe Long, whom she married in 1958. Joe Long went on to earn a law degree from UT that same year. 

In 1999, the couple established the Long Foundation to support education and the arts in the Austin area, as well as initiatives for Latino youth. As director of the Long Foundation, Mitchell Long, the couple’s nephew, said helping young people was a source of pride for his aunt.

“Any young person she came in contact with, she would talk about the need for education and how it can be life-changing and lift them out of certain situations,” Mitchell Long said. “The students, I think, will remember her, just for her generosity.”

Joe and Terry Long have helped more than 300 students from South Texas become physicians, nurses, and health professionals, said Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, who was president of UT Health San Antonio when the Longs made their first $25 million gift to the institution, and is now the director of pediatric transplant surgery at UT Health San Antonio. 

“The minute you meet her, she had a great impact, and she had this great wisdom – she had this radiance about her,” Cigarroa said. “She was always impeccably dressed, always with the most beautiful posture that you’ve ever seen, and she was just so elegant and intelligent.”

Although they had no children of their own, many of the students their scholarships supported became like their own children, Garrard said.

“One time one of our Long scholars – an undergrad from San Antonio … wanted to study Portuguese, so he went to Brazil on a study abroad trip,” Garrard said. “He sent the Longs a postcard of himself swimming in the bay in Rio de Janeiro, and they were just thrilled by that, they ate it up. We encouraged all Long scholars to send them similar notes and cards after that.”

Long was beloved by all she came in contact with, and was an easy person to talk to, Garrard said. Status and wealth only mattered to her in that she was able to give back, she added.

“My heart has a hole put in it because of the loss of Terry Long,” Henrich said. “She was a dear friend to me and to say I’m going to miss her doesn’t adequately describe it.”

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.