Lou Nolan is the only person who has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers since their inception in 1967.
He has spent 55 years with the organization, including the last 50 as its public-address announcer.
But two women are close behind, and they have seen the good, the bad, and the championship days of the Flyers and 76ers.
Margie McGlynn-Haugh has worked for the Spectrum and Wells Fargo Center for 52 years, and Gloria Darby has been with the arenas for 50 years. For five decades, they have been familiar faces at Flyers and 76ers games, along with concerts and other events.
In honor of all their years, both were given the night off and enjoyed time in a catered suite to watch the Flyers-Anaheim game with their families and friends Saturday. They were each given jerseys, signed by the Flyers and featuring numbers that corresponded to their years’ of service.
Both led the team’s pre-game drum celebration after Nolan, the longest-active public-address announcer in the NHL, was honored before Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Ducks.
“Saturday was Lou’s big night, but he wasn’t the only one celebrating 50 years with the Flyers organization, and we wanted to make sure Gloria and Margie knew just how much we appreciate them, too,” said Valerie Camillo, president of the Philadelphia Flyers’ business operations.
McGlynn-Haugh, 69, says it doesn’t seem like she’s been working events for 52 years.
“It went by kind of fast,” she said with a laugh. “I really don’t know how this happened.”
She works in the security department, and at one time served as an usher.
For 48 years, she was a kindergarten teacher at St. Cecilia’s in Philadelphia during the day, and an arena worker at night.
“My husband said I don’t like change,” she said about her longevity at two jobs.
She retired as a kindergarten three years ago, but remained at the Wells Fargo Center.
“Now that I’m retired, it’s easier to work at night,” said McGlynn-Haugh, who grew up in Mayfair and has lived in Marlton, N.J., for the last 38 years. “It’s a great job.”
Darby, 71, works in security and is also a greeter. During Sixers games, she escorts the visiting players from the locker room to the floor. At halftime and at the end of the game, she leads them into the locker room.
Making fans ‘feel welcomed’
At Flyers games and concerts/kid-friendly events, Darby greets fans, shows them to their seats, and “just makes them feel welcomed.” she said. “I talk to people and make sure there are no problems. I try to talk to people to diffuse a problem before there is a problem. I just treat everybody the way I would like to be treated. That’s why I’ve lasted so long.”
Darby, who lives in Southwest Philadelphia, said the guys “who used to be players are now coaches, and when they come in, they say, ‘Oh my God, you’re still here!’ ” she said. “I started with Dr. J, and he had an Afro and I had an Afro.”
“It’s just fun to see people are still around and still doing well. Every time (Mo) Cheeks comes here, he’s like, ‘You still hanging in there?’ I say, ‘Yeah, God bless us.’ Everybody knows me.”
Darby has become so close to the fans who are regulars that she calls them “my season-ticket holders. Over the years, they used to have little kids and now their kids are grown. And the grown kids will say ‘Miss Gloria, you were here when I went to the circus” as a youngster. “And now they have their own kids. It’s been a pleasure. I enjoy people. You’re here around 20,000 people every night, and everybody knows me and appreciates me — and I love that.”
She used to be a hostess at a Center City restaurant, but working at the arena has been her primary job for the last half-century.
Like McGlynn-Haugh, Darby was deeply appreciative to be honored Saturday.
“It was just so exciting because our families were there, and they treated us so nicely,” Darby said. “As long as I’ve been there, I had never sat in a suite. That was like a big treat for us. And (Eric) Lindros came up, Gritty came up, Bernie Parent came up, Valerie came up. It was just beautiful and an experience I will never forget.”
“These two amazing ladies have given so much,” Camillo said. “… We wanted to let them know just how much they mean to us.”