Hinsdale Central legend retires after 33 years

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Hinsdale Central Athletic Secretary Joan Mangano still uses an electric typewriter, which is displayed behind her.

When Joan Mangano started working at Hinsdale Central, the ditto machine was getting fazed out and would soon be replaced by the copy machine.

“Grease” was the word at movie theaters and disco was king with John Travolta catching “Saturday Night Fever.” Gasoline cost 63 cents a gallon when Jimmy Carter was president. And later in the year, a small compound in Guyana called Jonestown would dominate the headlines following the mass suicide of its residents.

Over the years, Mangano has seen how different technologies have changed her job as Athletic Secretary at the school, from electric typewriters to fax machines and now personal computers.

“When the computer came, I would say, ‘I should probably not learn it. It will be here today and gone tomorrow,’” Mangano said.

Even Mangano’s job title has changed over the years. She is now know more formally as an Administrative Assistant. But after 33 years, the last 32 with the athletic department, Mangano has decided to retire after this school year. Her final day will be June 30.

Mangano, 70, is a rare 12-month employee at Hinsdale Central. In her first year, she was the secretary for the special education department. In previous summers, Mangano handled the paperwork for physicals for each future Hinsdale Central athlete and would begin organizing bus schedules.

Her successor, Wanda Swik, works in the same office as Mangano as the Physical Education and Activities Secretary. Swik is awaiting final approval by the school board before officially taking over as Athletic Director Paul Moretta’s assistant.

“Joan is my mentor,” said Moretta, who came over to Hinsdale Central from New Trier four years ago. “I got hired when no one was here. There was no principal yet.”

Moretta is only the fourth athletic director Mangano has worked with, following Gene Strode, Ken Schreiner and Tom Schweer.

She doesn’t expect to retire for long. Mangano will take this summer off and might look for a part-time job. The Downers Grove resident and her husband, Lon, hope to spend more time with their four grandchildren: Ashley, 13; Anthony, 9; Jack, 5; and Reese, 1. Ashley lives in Lake Zurich and is starting to get more involved in sports.

“I could always become a Wal-mart greeter or maybe not,” Mangano said, laughing. “I have a lot of friends who are retired. I would like to take some day trips and go on lunches.”

“Joan is incredibly patient with everyone,” Moretta said. “No matter how many crazy things go on in this office, Joan is willing to be patient with everyone.”

There is one more office appliance that Mangano will have to leave with Swik. Mangano still uses an IBM Selectric III electric typewriter. The company Hinsdale Central uses to place purchase orders hasn’t joined the digital age yet.

“My problem has been finding a ribbon for the last couple of years,” Mangano said. “They don’t make them anymore.”

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