Nancy Bacher Long, 54, PR executive

Some people reach the upper rungs of their professions and never look back, but not Nancy Bacher Long.

Her success as a public relations executive in Philadelphia grew from an IBM electric typewriter, reams of carbon paper, and a weekly paycheck of barely $200. The newcomers she mentored were to take a lesson from that.

Nancy B. Long

"Intern. Volunteer. Remember, we all have to start out somewhere," she once said of the career advice she dispensed. "By starting at the bottom and soaking in everything you can, anything is possible."

After more than 25 years in public relations, working largely with health systems and pharma giants, she had begun to rechannel her energies into teaching her trade when, on July 14, she fell from her bicycle near her Cape May home toward the end of a 25-mile ride.

Mrs. Long, 54, died of her injuries Friday, Nov. 23, at MossRehab in Elkins Park.

Since then, "so many people have come forward to say, 'I would never be in this great job without her,' or, 'I would never be in this field,' " said Maryellen Royle, president of Tonic Life Communications, which Mrs. Long founded 20 years ago as Dorland Global Public Relations.

In helping rookies, "she was wonderfully generous," Royle said. "She launched many a career, including my own."

Mrs. Long grew up in Springfield, Delaware County, where she met her future husband, Andrew. She graduated from Springfield High School in 1976, and the University of Virginia in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a plan to be a social worker. She tried it briefly, at a group home for teens, before realizing she needed either more education or a new plan.

Opting for the latter, she got a low-level assistant's job at the Lewis Gilman Kynett agency in Philadelphia and worked her way up to account supervisor.

When her two children started school, she joined Dorland Global, a health-care communications firm, and in 1992, created its public relations unit.

Over 16 years as president, Mrs. Long turned it into one of the top five health-care PR specialists in the nation, directing promotions for the likes of Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Cephalon, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Royle called her "the quintessential networker." Her sister, Mary Ann Bacher, saw "a ton of energy . . . always charging around, joining this, joining that."

One of those affiliations - the Public Relations Society of America's Philadelphia Chapter - led her in 2007 to found the PR Institute, a continuing-education program for junior to midlevel professionals.

It will be renamed Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the PRSA's Pepperpot Gala as the Nancy Bacher Long PR Institute.

Four years ago, looking for "flexibility to do more of what she loved," Royle said, Mrs. Long quit Dorland. She went into consulting as Ducknot L.L.C., enrolled at Rowan University, earned a master's in public relations in 2011, and became an adjunct professor in Temple University's Department of Strategic Communication.

She and her husband moved from their longtime Medford home to a 19th-century Cape May farmhouse they had been restoring for 20 years.

There, her sister said, she indulged her passion for "serious gardening" and distance biking.

A board member of March of Dimes of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the American Heart Association Go Red for Women South Jersey, and Leadership Philadelphia, she took on even more - from Cape May Forum to Slow Food South Jersey Shore, pushing local, fresh food.

In addition to her husband of 28 years and sister, Mrs. Long is survived by a daughter, Margaret; a son, Ethan; and a brother, Robert.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Corinthian Yacht Club, 1819 Delaware Ave., Cape May.

Donations to the PR Institute can be made at PRSA Philadelphia, Box 38, Fairless Hills, Pa. 19030.


Contact Kathleen Tinney

at 610-313-8106.