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For nearly three decades, Sally Glora has reigned over Boston’s finances as its auditor, charged with overseeing all of the city’s financial transactions and accounting for its annual budget.

“We look at the auditing department as like the stronghold of city government,” Glora said. “Every dollar that comes into the city, comes in there, and every dollar that goes out of the city, goes out of there.”

Glora has worked under three mayors and dozens of city councilors, as well as with hundreds of employees since she got the job in 1990. And now, after 49 years working for the city of Boston, the first woman to serve as city auditor is retiring on Wednesday.


She started her career in a place quite different from City Hall: the now-closed Long Island Hospital, where she worked as a payroll clerk.

“It was a chronic care hospital in the middle of Boston Harbor, so that was quite a place to be, especially when you were 18,” Glora said.

She worked for the Department of Health and Hospitals from 1970 to 1987 and spent time at Mattapan and Boston City Hospitals.

During the Blizzard of 1978, Glora said, she and other workers raced to Long Island Hospital to help with anything that needed to be done.

“It was during those days that I perfected the art of making a bed with hospital corners and also learned how to make a batch of cole slaw that would feed 500,” said Glora.

She began her work at City Hall in 1987 as an assistant in the auditor’s office, and she rose to the role of deputy within two years. Within the year, Mayor Raymond L. Flynn appointed her to be the city auditor.

“Sally was very honest, professional, and very courteous,” Flynn said. “A hallmark of any good public employee.”


Back then, she recalled, the amount of paper in the office went “from floor to ceiling.” The office looks completely different today because of digitizaton.

“It’s at your fingertips. All of this data is available real time and very quickly,” she said.

In addition to leading the data transition, Glora is proud of her work in producing the city’s first Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which provides information on the financial status of the city every year.

“That doesn’t excite a lot of people, but excited us and [we] have gotten awards for over 20 years for that publication,” she said. “I’m very proud of that.”

Her role as the first female city auditor has never been something she has thought too much about, but she has tried to be someone young women could turn to for advice and leadership.

“I do try to be a mentor to people, especially to young women, and encourage them to continue to seek out opportunities and kind of stand up for themselves,” she said. “Even today still, as a woman, I think you have to take the step and be out there kind of looking for opportunities yourself and pushing for those things.”

Emme Handy, the city’s chief financial officer, noted that Glora became auditor when female leadership in city departments was rare. She described Glora as a “very strong, outspoken woman in city government.”

Both Glora and her husband, Ed, have spent their lives in public sector jobs. Ed has worked nearly 40 years for the Boston Public Schools, where he is the business services manager.


Glora said she could trace her decision to spend her career with the city to her upbringing.

“It just probably goes back to my parents, and just focused on public service and work ethic and dedication to something,” she said.

She is convinced that she was just in the right place at the right time to become the city auditor — but her most recent boss disagrees.

“She is consistent, steady, dependable, reliable, loving . . . and an incredible public servant,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in an interview.

Walsh said that when he began his first term as mayor, Glora said she was considering stepping down.

“We asked her to stay on. And then she did stay on,” Walsh said. “I think her draw back is to serve the people of Boston, and I’m grateful for that.”

Glora said she will miss the people she has worked with the most.

“In general, we deserve a lot more credit than is given. You have very dedicated people here, and a lot of them have taken the opportunity to do things to better themselves.”

Sam Tyler, the former president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau who retired this year after 46 years in that position, said Glora’s retirement will be a loss for the city.

“She’s the unsung hero in making sure that the city was in an improved position,” he said.

Glora doesn’t have grandiose plans for her retirement but hopes to play more golf, visit her house on the Cape, see the Bruins play, and spend time with her family.


“Sally will tell people anyone can replace her,” said Timothy Smyth, executive director of the Boston Retirement Board. “But that’s just not true.”

Aidan Ryan can be reached at aidan.ryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AidanRyanNH.