Just about two years ago around the time of the Super Bowl, in February 2015, I wrote a profile of George Strnad Sr., a longtime Riverside resident who was a longtime statistician for the Chicago Bears.
He held that job for 38 years, and George was dedicated to it. On many a Sunday he would attend Mass with his son, Georgie, before leaving to go to Soldier Field. Both would have on their Bears jackets and be dressed for the day’s weather.
Father and son were faithful to their team and George didn’t seem to mind my armchair quarterbacking. Following our conversation back in 2015, I had more than enough to fill a column.
George Strnad Sr. passed away last week at the age of 89, preceded in death by his daughter, Karen, and son, Georgie. He leaves his wife, Lois, and four remaining children as well as grandchildren. His obituary told so much more about the man that it could have filled at least three more columns.
His life was full with his family, education and sports. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, he not only received degrees in history and education but was an inaugural member of the school’s football team. He coached wrestling and football at UIC and received a master’s degree from DePaul University.
I learned of the many awards bestowed upon Strnad, many having to do with his long association with St. Joseph High School. He was inducted into the UIC Hall of Fame, East Suburban Catholic Conference Hall of Fame, St. Joseph High School Sports Hall of Fame and Circle of Honor, and the LaSallian Educators Award.
He devoted many hours to the Special Olympics and for 30 years served on the Riverside Township Mental Health Board. He was a permanent fixture at St. Joseph’s filling many positions.
I saw George last in the fall as he and Lois were entering St. Mary Church for the next Mass and Joe and I were exiting from the previous service. It was not an easy walk for him and he was aided by a cane as he slowly walked to the entrance. We talked a few minutes and as we said goodbye, he replied, “God bless you.”
I remember it well and will continue to remember his words.
Many were on hand to express their sympathy to the family and to exchange thoughts about George at his services. While his obituary told of his achievements, many of which I did not know, I would have added another. He was a good man.