In April 2000, the Bangor Daily News sent photographer Bob DeLong to Havana along with reporter Gordon Bonin to accompany a group of Maine educators organized by Let Cuba Live on a one-week tour of Cuba. The trip happened about the time of the famed Elian Gonzalez international custody battle. Gonzalez was the 6-year-old Cuban boy whose family in Miami tried to take custody of him while the U.S. government and his father battled to keep him in Cuba.
Nearly 15 years later, Cuba and the U.S. have vowed to re-establish diplomatic relations, which were originally tainted by the Cold War cuban missile crisis.
During his visit, DeLong took photos of children playing baseball in the streets, where roosters also roamed. He showed a country full of color and decaying Spanish architecture.
BDN cartoonist George Danby, who worked with DeLong, said he was usually relaxed and quietly observant while shooting. Danby said he was in the background, but always with a keen eye, looking for a photo that wasn’t obvious and unusual.
“His photography was always a part of him.” Danby said.
DeLong retired from the paper in February 2002 after 22 years as a photographer for the BDN and a total of 34 years with the company. Just a few years later, he died of an illness at the age of 68.
Former Bangor Daily News Executive Editor Mark Woodward was quoted in DeLong’s obituary as saying “Bob DeLong was the epitome of the professional newspaper photographer.”