She was a woman of conviction who often fought injustices.
An avid fan of Jewel Box Theater productions, Rheta Ione (Bender) Long was scheduled to attend a play the day she was killed. Long, 60, was a Guymon native who attended Panhandle State University before obtaining an education degree from Phillips University in 1955. “She really didn’t have hobbies. She was just really involved in her family and her church,” said Janna Evans, U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman. Long taught school for about five years and found her reward in teaching children that school and learning could be fun, Evans said. Long began her career in federal government in 1974 as a military personnel clerk for the U.S. Army. In 1978, she transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Service as a clerk. She joined the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in 1982 as a program clerk, Evans said. Because she had a vision disability, Long was assigned to educate workers about the disabled, Evans said.