KUSA – There were seats for about 600 people. Family, friends, teachers and community members may have filled them all inside the gymnasium at Fitzsimmons Middle School in Bailey.
Hundreds gathered for a celebration of life ceremony for Maggie Long.
The 17-year-old senior at Platte Canyon High School was last seen Dec. 1. Her remains were found inside her family’s home, the same day it was set on fire. The Park County Sheriff’s Office has not named a suspect in the homicide investigation.
Maggie would have turned 18 on Sunday. Nelson Conway, a director at the local theater where Maggie frequently performed, shared with the crowd gathered inside the gym what Maggie had planned for her birthday.
“Maggie planned to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless,” Conway said. “And that was what she wanted to do. And that was Maggie.”
Maggie’s friends were not surprised by the plans she’d made.
“Most 18-year-olds would not want to do that on their 18th birthday, but seeing as how she gave up her day to help others – that’s what I think of when I think of Maggie,” said Matthew Bailey.
Teachers and friends described Maggie as kind, altruistic, genuine, ambitious and majestic – one of her favorite words.
Speech and drama teacher Amanda Waterhouse had Maggie in class for four years.
“I would have days where I would say, ‘OK, Maggie I want you to go around and say something good about every person in this room, and she’d be like, ‘OK!’ And be so excited to do it and have genuine things to say about every single person because she truly loved everybody she came into contact with and saw the beauty of each of them,” Waterhouse said.
Maggie was involved in just about everything at Platte Canyon High School.
“Seriously, everything,” said Dean Carlstrom, one of Maggie’s teachers. “She competed on the speech team and garnered multiple accolades at events – even placing at state several times, she also played the clarinet in the band, performed at musicals at the high school and the community theater.”
Carlstrom said Maggie led student council, traveled with the travel club and became editor in chief of the school yearbook. She still found time to help out her parents at the family restaurant.
“Nobody was as excited to participate in activities and simply be a part of the Platte Canyon community as Maggie,” said Josh Seidler, another of Maggie’s friends.
The celebration of life for Maggie Long ended with a video remembrance and one final standing ovation from a gymnasium full of people.