It’s a Wonderful Life
Gary Long ’87 grew up in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in the heart of coal-mining territory. His dad worked as a laborer in a steel foundry, and his mom stayed at home to care for the kids and manage the household. Long was the first in his entire extended family to attend college, and he chose Moravian. But without scholarships and loans, his Moravian College experience never would have happened. “My family did not have the means to pay for any part of college tuition,” recalls Long. “I worked in the summers and during the school year to pay the portion of tuition not covered by financial aid.”
Long majored in criminal justice but eventually took a different path. In the summer between his junior and senior years, he worked as a counselor at Wiley House, now KidsPeace, where he also completed his senior fieldwork. “My work as a counselor was very gratifying, and my mentors encouraged me to pursue a master’s in social work, which I completed at Temple University shortly after graduating from Moravian.”
Passionate about doing work that supported others, Long took his skills from KidsPeace to Lehigh Valley Hospice, and then to Easton Hospital before accepting a position in administration at Virtua Health and moving with his family to southern New Jersey. Long retired from Virtua in 2015, as senior executive responsible for the operation of three acute care hospitals. “My transition into healthcare administration came about with the encouragement of a career mentor who pointed out that I could amplify my impact on caring for patients and their families by moving into hospital administration where I would be responsible for caring for the care team—creating a nurturing work environment and ensuring resources so health providers could provide the best possible care for the patients we served,” says Long.
Long and his wife Terri ’88, who has had a fulfilling a career as a preschool teacher and then director of a preschool center, retired to their weekend home on the eastern shore of Maryland. They enjoy spending time with their son, Matt, when they can, and traveling. “We visited South Africa and Italy last year and Doha, Qatar, and Cape Town this September,” says Long. Destinations for possible future trips include the D-day beaches in Normandy, Bermuda, Egypt, Peru, a small ship cruise along the coast of Alaska, and Japan with a hike to the summit of Mt. Fuji. “Our travel choices are a mix of historical interests and unique experiences,” says Long.
Success and happiness came to Long through hard work, openness to opportunities, and good choices, but he credits heavily Moravian’s impact. “Moravian College had a tremendous impact on me personally and professionally,” says Long. “The faculty and staff guided me to think critically—explore an issue from all sides—and solve problems. The liberal arts education made me conversant on a range of topics beyond my major. All of this prepared me for the leadership roles I took on in my career.
“At Moravian, I met Terri,” Long continues. “I was a year ahead of her. We became friends my sophomore year and then a couple the following year. We married in 1990, and our son was born in 1993. Personal impact—yes!”
A wonderful life—indeed!