When Virginia Halas McCaskey graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia with a degree in secretarial science in 1943, she aspired to work for an executive—her father, George Halas, founder and owner of the Chicago Bears and the National Football League.
Eighty years later, McCaskey serves as secretary on the team’s board of directors. But make no mistake, she is the main owner of the team. She is also the mother of 11 children and grandmother or great-grandmother of many more.
Today she is adding another chapter to her impressive biography – one hundred years old.
McCaskey was born on January 5, 1923, making him about 3 years younger than the NFL itself.
Her life was marked by tragedy that unexpectedly accelerated her career, prompting a former league commissioner to dub her the “First Lady of the NFL.”
Her mother “Min” died of a heart attack in 1966. The same disease killed her younger brother George “Mugs” Halas Jr. in 1979. Halas died of cancer in 1983 without revealing his diagnosis to his only daughter. Virginia’s 60-year-old husband, Edward W. McCaskey, died in 2003. She is survived by two of her own children and one of her favorite bears, Walter Payton.
[ Who is Virginia McCaskey? 8 Things to Know About the Chicago Bears Owner. ]
Notoriously private, McCaskey rarely grants interviews and leads a humble life devoted to her faith, family and football.
Former longtime Tribune sports reporter Don Pierson is among the few who have spent hours with McCaskey. Most recently, she captured her memories in the Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook, co-authored with Dan Pompei and published in 2019.
Pierson, who covered for the Tribune from the late 1960s through the team’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI in 2007, says McCaskey takes her role as the Bears’ matriarch seriously.
[Virginia McCaskey turns 100: Q&A with former Tribune reporter Don Pierson about the Chicago Bears matriarch]
“Virginia and the McCaskey family inherited the Bears with no experience, little background, no expectations, no real desire on Virginia’s part, but she has made it her lifelong, solemn duty to do what she believes her father to do.” after what would be expected of her,” Pierson told me on Wednesday. “She cherishes that legacy and she’s done a great job trying to preserve that legacy.”
Does Pierson think McCaskey will ever sell the team her father started in Chicago?
“As long as she lives, the bears will never be sold,” he said.
[Column: Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey turns 100 — and her pride and optimism for the franchise still resonates ]
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Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith (58) greets Virginia McCaskey, center, and Chicago Bears chairman George H. McCaskey at the conclusion of training camp in Bourbonnais on July 30, 2019. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)
Follow the team’s matriarch through the decades, captured by Tribune photographers. See more photos.
Red Grange, right, is surrounded by a crowd as he returns from a coast-to-coast football tour. Grange was greeted by his brother Garland Grange, left, upon his arrival at the Chicago and Northwestern station. (Historical photo from the Chicago Tribune)
Pro football struggled to build audiences, so George Halas, Red Grange and the Bears went on a 19-game, 66-day barnstorming tour to generate interest in the winter of 1925. And 3-year-old McCaskey joined the ride. Continue reading.
On December 18, 1932, the Bears, who had iced Wrigley Field, beat Portsmouth, Ohio, 9-0 at Chicago Stadium for the National Football League title. (Chicago Herald and Examiner)
This is McCaskey’s lasting memory of the 1932 NFL Championship, which she watched when she was just 9 years old. In the throes of the Great Depression, to ensure paying customers showed up in freezing temperatures on December 18, the game was played at Chicago Stadium — yes, indoors — on 8 inches of dirt spread over concrete. Continue reading.
Virginia Halas McCaskey’s older photo of the 1943 Lexerd at Drexel University. (Drexel University Archives)
McCaskey enrolled at Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1939 at age 16 and lived with her Uncle Walter, the school’s football, baseball, and basketball coach. She majored in secretarial, a department that launched the school in 1914. She wanted to be her father’s secretary.
In her sophomore year, she met her future husband, Edward McCaskey, who was attending the University of Pennsylvania.
Ed and Virginia went to the 1942 NFL title game between the Bears and the Washington Redskins with the intention of asking Papa Bear for permission to get married. The Bears were undefeated and big favorites.
“It was there that I learned how much football means to the Halas family,” recalled Edward McCaskey.
With the Bears on the verge of a 14-6 loss, Ed noticed that Virginia was crying.
“What’s up?” he asked. “It’s just a football game.”
“No,” Virginia replied. “Don’t you know that if the bears lose, my father will never let us marry?”
In fact, the two had to flee and chose Halas’ birthday, February 2, 1943, as the wedding date.
“He wasn’t very happy about that,” McCaskey said.
They moved to Des Plaines where they raised 11 children. Continue reading.
Ed McCaskey at his home in Des Plaines on August 22, 1994, with a picture of his famous father-in-law, George Halas, on the wall. (Chicago Tribune Archives)
After living in the same house in Des Plaines for 45 years, the McCaskeys moved to a ranch house a block away in 1994. Continue reading.
The Chicago Bears’ premiership championship since 1956 is reflected in the faces of head coach George Halas, second from right, and his aides as the game concludes at Wrigley Field on December 15, 1963. Others are (from left) trainers Sid Luckman, George Allen and Phil Handler. (Phil Mascione/Chicago Tribune)
When a fan at Bears100 Celebration Weekend in 2019 asked McCaskey about her favorite Wrigley Field game, she was quick to point to the 1963 championship game. Continue reading.
George Halas Jr., from left, Abe Gibron and Phil Handler sit at the Chicago Bears table during the football draft on December 2, 1963 at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago. (Eddie Wagner Sr. / Chicago Tribune)
McCaskey’s younger brother, George Halas Jr., known as “Mugs,” died in 1979. Read more.
“I left my team to my family and my kids, and that’s the way I want it,” George Halas told Sid Luckman. (Carl Hugare/Chicago Tribune)
Halas died in 1983, leaving McCaskey in control of the bears. She told the Tribune at the time that she and her father spoke frequently about the team’s future in the final months of his life, but that there was a “gap” in their conversations that left some questions unanswered. Continue reading.
Officially called the Bears’ Song and Dance Group, their uniforms are modeled after those worn by Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, and their purpose is to inspire Bear fans. The 28 girls who make up the “Honey Bears” made their debut on Monday night, July 25, 1977. (Ed Wagner Jr. / Chicago Tribune)
The Bears formed the Honey Bears cheerleading/dance team in 1975. However, McCaskey reportedly prevailed on abolishing the group when her contract expired after the 1985 season. Continue reading.
Michael McCaskey, grandson of the late George “Papa Bear” Halas, was officially named president and chief operating officer of the Chicago Bears at a November 11, 1983 news conference. (Historical photo from the Chicago Tribune)
Michael McCaskey, Virginia’s eldest child, took over the reins of the Chicago Bears from his grandfather George Halas in 1983 before the team had its greatest moment two years later. Continue reading.
Bears head coach Mike Ditka (center) and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan (left) are carried across the field after beating New England 46-10 in Super Bowl XX on January 26, 1986 in New Orleans. (Ed Wagner/Chicago Tribune)
McCaskey had great respect for the 1985 Bears team that won Super Bowl XX. “They are all different, but they are all together. This is so beautiful. And if they mention Dad occasionally, I hope they tell me that they appreciate what he stood for, his values.” Read more.
Virginia McCaskey of the Chicago Bears addresses the media during a news conference at the team’s Lake Forest training ground on November 11, 1983. She introduced her husband, Edward McCaskey, to her left, as the team’s new CEO. Ed introduced their son Michael, who was on the far left, as the team’s new president. (Phil Mascione/Chicago Tribune)
With one signature, McCaskey could make herself and her family wealthy beyond anything they can hope to keep the team. But money is not the motive. Continue reading.
Virginia McCaskey watches as her son Michael McCaskey discusses the future of the Bears on February 10, 1999. Michael was appointed as the team’s Chairman and CEO and Ted Phillips became the new President. (Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune)
Ironically, it was Virginia McCaskey who announced in 1999 that her eldest son was stepping down as president to become CEO. He stayed in that role until 2011 when he was replaced by his brother George. Continue reading.
Walter Payton hugs Ed McCaskey after receiving a portrait of him during ceremonies before Payton’s final game on December 20, 1987. Right Virginia and Michael McCaskey. (Ed Wagner Jr./Chicago Tribune)
McCaskey paid special tribute to Payton after his death from cancer in 1999. Read more.
Michael and Virginia McCaskey in their mother’s fur coats stand amidst streamers after the Chicago Bears defeated the New Orleans Saints 39-14 in the NFC Championship game at Soldier Field January 21, 2007 in Chicago. (Jim Prisching/Chicago Tribune)
When McCaskey received the George Halas Trophy after the Bears won the NFC title in January 2007, she wore the same fur coat her mother wore when the Bears won the 1963 NFL title. Continue reading.
Chicago Bears lead owner Virginia McCaskey looks on at Bears chairman George McCaskey during the halftime between the Bears and the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on September 17, 2018. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)
In a 2007 interview, McCaskey said it is her hope and expectation that her children continue to own the bears and keep Halas’ legacy alive forever. Continue reading.
Chicago Bears player Kyle Fuller shows off the new Throwback jersey during the Bears100 celebration weekend on June 7, 2019. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
The team had to get McCaskey’s approval for the Bears’ 1936-inspired retro uniform, but their initial reaction was lukewarm. Continue reading.
George Halas with his daughter Virginia McCaskey at a Bear Packer game in Milwaukee on August 19, 1968. (Ed Feeney / Chicago Tribune)
It had already been a sentimental and deeply emotional weekend for the Bears owner, but when McCaskey was asked to describe George Halas and her fondest memories with her father on the final day of Bears100 Celebration Weekend in 2019, she swallowed hard. Continue reading.
Virginia McCaskey smiles while speaking to a fan during the Bears100 celebration on June 8, 2019 in Rosemont. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)
A documentary released as part of the NFL’s 100th season featured McCaskey and three other women from teams-owning families. Continue reading.
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What are silent seizures called?
Overview. Absence seizures are short, sudden disturbances in consciousness. They are more common in children than in adults. See the article : Male NFL Cheerleaders Are Starting to Dress Themselves. Someone having an absence seizure may appear for a few seconds as if he or she is staring blankly into space.
What does a silent seizure look like? Typical absence seizures The person suddenly stops all activities. It may appear as if he or she is staring into space or just has a blank stare. The eyes may roll up and the eyelids flutter. The seizures usually last less than 10 seconds.
Are absence seizures serious? Absence seizures are brief and usually do not result in physical injury. However, in rare cases, some children may have whole-body cramps. This can happen when a child has many absence seizures in one day, or many seizures are close together. Learning and behavioral problems can also occur.
What causes silent seizures?
Like other types of seizures, absence seizures are caused by abnormal activity in a person’s brain. Doctors often don’t know why this is the case. To see also : Joanne E. Sopp Obituary – The Repository. Most absence seizures last less than 15 seconds. It is rare for an absence seizure to last longer than 15 seconds.
What happens during a silent seizure? Absence seizures are short, sudden disturbances in consciousness. They are more common in children than in adults. Someone having an absence seizure may appear for a few seconds as if he or she is staring blankly into space. Then there is a quick return to a normal level of alertness.
What Causes Absence Seizures in Adults With No History? Seizures in adults with no history of seizures can be caused by a number of factors ranging from high blood pressure, substance abuse, and toxic exposures to brain injury, brain infection (encephalitis), and heart disease.