April 2018 • Volume 106 • Number 4 • Page 8
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Thanks, St. Ignatius, for the Award and Lessons Learned
The lessons I learned back at St. Ignatius College Prep guide me today as I work on behalf of the ISBA.
Few recent honors have meant more to me than the Alumni Award for Excellence in the Field of Law I received a few weeks ago from the St. Ignatius College Prep Law Society. I'm honored as well that former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was honored in the same ceremony.
If you grew up Catholic in Chicago in my day, you were defined by what grammar or high school you went to or what parish you belonged to - or even what corner you hung out on. My high school was St. Ignatius, but I almost didn't find my way there.
Growing up on the west side, Fenwick High School in Oak Park was on my radar. During my freshman year at Fenwick, now-Judge Bill Haddad and I were approached about transferring to St. Ignatius to play football and basketball. We did, and now I know both the St. Ignatius and Fenwick fight songs.
As a young athlete, I was fortunate to play under three wonderful coaches. My coach at Fenwick, John Jardine, was later a football coach at UCLA and head football coach at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Ralph Mallard was St. Ignatius' legendary track coach, and I was his failed shot put project. Iconic DePaul basketball coach Ray Meyer lived in our parish and helped coach our local CYO teams; his son Joey, who later coached the Blue Demons as well, was on our team. These leaders taught me discipline, perseverance, and competitiveness, virtues my parents also instilled in me.
Perhaps you've heard of the storied Four Horsemen of Notre Dame's backfield. Our St. Ignatius football team in the mid-60s featured the Four Mules, with yours truly at quarterback. I could throw but had lead in my shoes (and elsewhere, they said). Judge Haddad could run at fullback but caught a football like he was swatting a mosquito.
The late Danny O'Brien, halfback and later a founder of O'Brien's restaurant, acted like and was sometimes a player/coach. No coach picked on Matt Walsh, the other halfback, because they knew someday he'd be a major donor; he went on to be owner of Walsh Construction, with offices throughout North America. And let's not forget St. Ignatius alum Pete Schivarelli, who went on to be a Notre Dame football player, owner of Demon Dogs, and manager of the band Chicago. I believe it's no accident so many accomplished people got their start at St. Ignatius.
My fellow St. Ignatius award honoree was former Mayor Richard M. Daley. I admire his distinguished career and am proud to share the honor with him. I grew up in the predominately Irish and Democratic 37th Ward, the largest in the city. My great grandfather was alderman of the 34th Ward under Big Bill Thompson, the last Republican mayor of Chicago. My father and Mayor Richard J. Daley, Rich's dad, got to know one another at parent activities. They were just two dads with sons in school and no other connection, but they became fast friends.
St. Ignatius, a survivor of the great Chicago fire, gave me training and confidence that helped me later in life when I headed my own law firm and ran for judge and ISBA President. (Who said I was slow?) It's been my privilege to lead ISBA's 30,000 members, and I've worked hard to make the most of my time at the helm. Among other projects, I convened or continued committees to help address gun violence in Illinois, ease practice transition and succession for lawyers, study and report about the issues affecting the future of the legal profession, and increase ISBA membership.
I couldn't have done any of this without the discipline that St. Ignatius instilled in me. I learned so much from the Jesuits, the parents, my fellow students, and the larger lay community. While I'm still learning every day, my most important lessons came many years ago and have stayed with me through the decades. Thank you, St. Ignatius, for teaching me well.