GREENVILLE — Gary McCans is officially retired from the University of Dayton (U.D.) Arena, where he spent most of his time the last 48 years.
McCans, who turned 70 on May 6, said his last day was Friday, May 13.
“So far so good,” he said when asked how retirement was treating him. “I am really looking forward to it. I carried out a couple of boxes and realized I was leaving the arena the last time, and I choked up a bit, but I got home and it was better.”
A retirement party was held at the arena the week before. The staff party included all athletic members.
“They honored me at a basketball game in February by giving me a set of seats from U.D. Arena they put together,” he said. “It went on through March, April and it finally hit me. I let them know when I came back to work last September that it would be my last year. I had the summers off the last three years. I went from a 12-month position to a nine-month position.”
Thanks to UD Arena, the McCans got to travel with the basketball team to an A10 tournament in New York in March.
“That’s where I got the arena seats,” he said. “They gave me a set of tickets from each of last year’s home games. I saw all 173 NCAA games in 48 years. They wrote about me in an article in USA Today.”
He said his age and tenure played a role in his decision to retire.
“I feel good,” he said. “I want to be around the grandchildren, and Rita and I want to do a lot of traveling. She has put up a lot with me. I took up a lot of time at work.”
McCans graduated from U.D. in 1968, when he also became assistant ticket manager at the arena. A year later he married his wife, the former Rita Hupman of Greenville. They met while working together at U.D.; he as assistant ticket manager and she as as secretary.
“I’m originally from Philadelphia,” he said. “I came to U.D. in 1964 and started working right away on campus. I got my bachelor of science in marketing.”
When the arena opened in 1969, he became ticket manager.
He said he also held a bunch of other titles, such as director of premium seating and director of marketing and special events.n
“I ended up back as director of events services,” he said. “I was in charge of all the people..ticket takers, ushers, security…anybody working there outside of employees.”
His most memorable events athletically were the NCAA games, but he couldn’t pick a favorite game.
“There are too many to pick any exciting one,” he said.
On the events side, he said the most memorable would be the Elvis Presley concerts.
“He put on four concerts,” McCans said. “I didn’t meet him, because they sold out and there was not a lot for me to do at the shows, but I helped them get his costumes into the limousine.”
McCans said he also got to meet Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.
“That was exciting. Frank Sinatra is more down to earth than you’d think,” he said. “I ate lunch with Bob Hope and he talked about this trips overseas.”
McCans will probably never forget the visit of President Obama and the prime minister from England to an NCAA game.
“I was close enough to see him,” McCans said. “It was a high-security event. We planned security a week before. It’s understandable, but nobody got upset. Fans had to go through metal detectors. It was a very professional organization.”
During his tenure at U.D., McCans worked under only four bosses, Tom Frericks of Minster, then Ted Kissell, Tim Wadler and, for the past eight months, Neil Sullivan.
The retiree’s job had him driving 40 miles to work each day, and the only events he ever missed were due to illness or when it snowed up here.”
McCans hopes to join some organizations now that he has more time on his hands.
“I plan to get more involved in the community…with Rotary or something like that,” he said. “I joined Partnering For Progress and am active at the EUM Church. I enjoy that.”
As for hobbies, he enjoys playing golf, gardening and cooking.
“I can whip up anything,” he remarked on his culinary skills. “I like trying new recipes. I do regular home cooking.”
As for his gardening, he noted that when they first moved to their home in 1977, they put up a big garden, but both got too busy working.
“Now we just do a little…lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and radishes,” he said. “Somewhere down the road we will have more time, maybe.”
The couple has two children, David McCans and Kristen Fee, and there are four grandchildren.
“I am looking for retirement,” he said. “We have lived here since 1977 and I really enjoy Greenville and the community.”
In their travels, the McCans couple will probably go to Florida some, and visit his sister in Philadelphia.
“And, I have never been out West, except for California,” he said.
He still plans to go to events at the arena.
“I love athletics,” he said. “I travel around to football games. My two events were football and basketball.”
His normal hours, he said, were 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and some nights, including when they’d have the required bomb sweeps at 3 a.m.
Yes, his work ran the gamut.
“From Lawrence Welk to Bob Hope to Bob Barker; from the first televised roller derby to professional wrestling, then Olympics, volleyball, professional tennis and gymnastics…it covered the spectrum,” he said. “The Shrine Circus is still there as are flag corps and percussion drums.”