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updated: 11/7/2012 6:04 PM

Halas family loses an elder stateswoman

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  • From left on George and Mildred's wedding day in 1949: August Paluch; Anna Paluch; George and Mildred Halas; Ann Halas and Walter Halas.

      From left on George and Mildred's wedding day in 1949: August Paluch; Anna Paluch; George and Mildred Halas; Ann Halas and Walter Halas.
    Courtesy of Carolyn Yopchick

 
By Eileen O. Daday

One of the last members of the Halas family to be among the inner circle with George "Papa Bear" Halas, has died.

Mildred Halas passed away Nov. 1. The longtime Mount Prospect resident was 83.

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Her husband, George J. Halas, was the nephew of the former Bears owner. He served as a part-time advance scout for the Bears, taking over for his father, Walter Halas, when he passed away in 1959.

George J. Halas scouted for the Bears until 1974, traveling on the road nearly every weekend during the preseason and regular seasons to see opponents the team would play the following week.

"He probably attended 25 games per year," says his oldest son, George Halas. "My mother was nothing less than heroic in terms of staying home and raising the four children."

The couple raised their family in Mount Prospect and remained close to the large extended Halas family.

"On Christmas Day, we traveled the circuit visiting family members and friends," George Halas said. "We always went to the McCaskeys (in Des Plaines) last."

Mildred met her husband while they worked together at Bowman Dairy in Chicago -- George Halas delivered milk while his future wife worked in the office. They married in 1949, after Halas served in the Army during World War II.

Their early married years were spent with Halas working in sales and marketing for Chicago-area industrial companies, while attending Northwestern business school at night, and serving the Army Reserves one weekend a month.

After Halas graduated from Northwestern, he soon added scouting to his workload, leaving his wife to be something of a football widow.

"My mother married into this large football family, but she quickly became an avid Bears fan," says her son, Tim Halas of Arlington Heights.

She didn't stay home while her husband was on the road. Mildred Halas had two season tickets of her own to Bears games, which she held for nearly 35 years.

"For that entire time, I don't think she missed a game," George Halas says. "And as a die-hard Bears fan, she stayed until the very end. She would never think of leaving early."

He recalls attending the 1988 NFC championship game with his mother, when the Bears hosted the San Francisco 49ers. The wind chill was 30-below zero, he says, and the Bears lost 28-3.

"But we stayed," George Halas says. "I think my mother and I were the last two people in the stadium."

Halas was preceded in death by her husband, who died in 2000. Besides her two sons, she is survived by her two daughters, Cynthia (John) Dery, and Anne (Rick) Johns, and seven grandchildren.

Visitation will take place 3-9 p.m. Thursday, at Lauterburg & Oehler Funeral Home, 2000 E. Northwest Hwy. in Arlington Heights, before a 10 a.m. funeral Mass Friday, at St. Raymond de Penafort Church, 300 S. Elmhurst Ave. in Mount Prospect.

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