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Helen W. Longley, 83, wife of former Maine governor

PORTLAND, Maine -- Helen W. Longley, wife of Maine's first independent governor, died Tuesday at Mercy Hospital following a brief illness. She was 83.

Born Helen Angela Walsh in Springfield, Ohio, she met Air Corps cadet James Longley in 1943. They were married six years later in Ohio, and moved to Lewiston, Maine, where he launched an insurance business.

Mrs. Longley supported her husband's political aspirations but stayed largely behind the scenes after he surprised the political establishment by being elected governor as an independent. He served from 1975 to 1979.

While living in the governor's mansion, Mrs. Longley was supportive of the Special Olympics. She also was a volunteer for 35 years for various local organizations, including Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center.

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