Former insurance commissioner dies

RALEIGH Long never recovered after collapsing on his way to a meeting on January 21.

The hospital says he was surrounded by his family in his final moments.

"It is with heavy hearts that our family witnessed Jim's passing today," said Peg O'Connell, Long's wife, in a statement released to the media. "We will be forever thankful for the prayers and kind words the people of North Carolina offered to Jim and our family during this difficult time. Jim loved this great state and its gracious people. He was honored to serve them."

Long served as head of the North Carolina Department of Insurance for 24 years and retired last month. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

Governor Perdue is ordering all flags to half-staff in Long's honor.

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