For 45 years, many Alabama property owners who faced the loss of their land to condemnation called on Mobile attorney Warren Herlong to fight for their rights.

Now, property owners will have to find another attorney to be their "land man."  Herlong died on January 10 at age 75.

While Warren was an Alabama native, born in Greenville on Feb. 7, 1948, he was the son of an Air Force Colonel and grew up all over the world. He spent his formative childhood years, first in Japan and later, in Libya, where, instead of a bike, he learned to ride donkeys bareback.

The family was transferred to Brookley Air Force Base during its closing days in Mobile. He graduated from nearby B.C. Rain High School, where he was a leader on the debate and football teams.

He attended the University of Alabama where he served as president of the Student Government Association. He built a network of contacts through his fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon. DKE was the go-to organization for future leaders of Mobile.

He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he and fellow classmate Alan Clark won the Moot Court Competition.

He furthered his studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he earned a Diploma of Roman Law. The Roman view of the sanctity of land was absorbed by student Herlong.

He practiced law in Mobile for more than 45 years, all at the same firm, now named "Helmsing, Leach, Herlong, Newman & Rouse."  He specialized in eminent domain, where he gained national repute as one of the premier attorneys representing property owners whose land faced condemnation. He became a founding member of the "Owner's Counsel of America," which is now the leading organization of eminent domain lawyers.

He was selected as a fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers as well as a member of the University of Alabama President's Cabinet. He served as a mentor to young lawyers in his firm.

Some of his favorite memories included weekend fox hunting on horseback at Brampton in Virginia with host "Shack" Shackelford and other fellow classmates.

After law school, a four-month voyage to the South Pacific with classmate and dear friend Pete Vial would forever provide Warren with added perspective on life, including the ability to invoke "Fiji Time" into stressful situations.

Perhaps Warren's most influential experience was a college summer trip to Idaho in 1967 to raft the Salmon River. This short stint as a white-water rafting guide became a defining experience for Warren that compelled him to return every year for 50 years to raft the Middle Fork with his friends from the Pacific Northwest during the summers and ski with them in Sun Valley during the winters.

Always the professional, Warren maintained his white-water guide license until his death. He also found solitude in the woods, where for several decades he avidly hunted wild quail with his old friends in Baldwin County. When he wasn't working or on an adventure, Warren loved to spend time at his cabin in Magnolia Springs, a special place that he graciously shared with so many.

Warren was preceded in death by his father, Col. Warren C. Herlong, Sr. and his mother, Gerrie Herlong. He is survived by his beloved wife, Meredith Foster Herlong, three sons, Foster, Emory, and Pierce Horton, and two daughters, Amber Brewer (John), and Anna "McKenz" Hatchett, as well as Godfather to eight children. Numerous other loved ones are cited in his official obituary here.

A memorial service will be celebrated on Monday, January 22, at 3 p.m. in the Azalea Room at Marriott's Grand Hotel, Point Clear, Alabama.

Warren Herlong’s service to the community and the land did not cease at his death. He requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to Mobile Baykeeper.

“Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts.”  - Gerald O’Hara, "Gone With the Wind."

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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