Ted Long, born in 1932 right here in North Platte, was best known for his sculptures and paintings which depicted the American West. His work has been sought after by collectors, and been displayed across America, as he became nationally recognized as one of the foremost western artists in the country.
Long might be best known for his larger than life bronze sculpture, "Defenders of Liberty," which is at the entrance to the 20th Century Veterans Memorial. Other accomplishments include becoming the first Nebraska artist to have a piece of art in the rotunda of the Nebraska capitol building, a sculpture of Ponca Chief Standing Bear (who also became the first American Indian to be inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame.) In 1987 President Ronald Reagan visited the Long ranch and stated he was pleased to shake the hand of “real working cowboys.”
Long also helped found the Nebraskaland Days Governor’s Western and Wildlife Art Show, persuading many of his artist friends to show their work. That influence exists to this day, as many of the artists who display their work during Nebraskaland Days’ exhibit were urged and supported by Ted Long himself.
Though Long’s art brought him national acclaim and has been collected by many, he remained a rancher at-heart, a steward of the land. He continued to live and work the ranch, where he was born, and where he raised his four children, Michaelene, Tom, Patrick, and Cathy, with his wife Margaret. He passed away at home in North Platte in 2007, but Ted Long’s legacy lives on. His life and work continue to influence and inspire those who knew him, and those who continue to be in awe of his work.