LAKE FOREST – Chicago Bears owner and matriarch Virginia Halas McCaskey turned 100 years old on Thursday. McCaskey is the daughter of team founder, coach and NFL legend George Halas.
McCaskey has been the principal owner of the team since Halas died in 1983. She has been around the Chicago Bears since she was a little girl and her father was coaching the organization.
According to the Bears, McCaskey is celebrating her 100th birthday with a small family gathering.
McCaskey was born on Jan. 5, 1923, just three years after her father coached the Decatur Staleys (who would later become the Chicago Bears) during their first season in 1920. Few people have witnesses as much football as McCaskey has up close. She accompanied her father on the Red Grange barnstorming tour in 1925-26 and attended the first indoor NFL game at Chicago Stadium in 1932.
🎂 100 🎂— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 5, 2023
Wishing Mrs. McCaskey a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/h4TnUftuOe
McCaskey has guided the organization since her father’s death in 1983, but in more recent years she has been a hands-off, behind-the-scenes owner. Her husband, Ed McCaskey, was the team chairman between 1983 and 1999. Ed McCaskey died in 2003. Virginia and Ed McCaskey had been married for 60 years and had 11 children. Their son George McCaskey has been the team chairman since 2011.
Since the death of Arizona Cardinals’ owner Bill Bidwell in 2019, Virginia McCaskey is the longest-tenured NFL owner.
She continues to be the Bears’ No. 1 fan.
“Her first conversation that we had together was over the phone, and her last comment was, she goes, ‘Matt, you know I’ll be your biggest fan,’” first-year head coach Matt Eberflus said this week. “That’s what she said to me. Then just me talking to her at the gala and some different events, when she’s here, she had lunch with [my wife] Kelly here one day, which was great. Got a chance to speak to her then and then always encouraging, always upbeat, always thoughtful, and it’s been a joy to get to know her this last year.”
Bears tight end Cole Kmet, who grew up a Bears fan in Lake Barrington, said he first met Virginia McCaskey when he was 15 years old at a Bears preseason practice.
“I kind of like to think of her like the queen of Chicago,” Kmet said. “She’s like royalty. Pretty amazing stuff. She’s been around and she takes great pride in this organization. We all feel that from the top down.”