Bernie Leahy -- After his prep days at St. Mel and collegiately at Notre Dame, Leahy was
a halfback for the Chicago Bears during the 1932 season in which they won the NFL championship.
Tom Bettis -- This linebacker starred at Purdue, then went on to an nine-year career in
the National Football League with Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and the hometown Bears from 1955-63. Bettis was a member of three
teams that reached the NFL championship game in three of his last four seasons (1960, 1961, & 1963), then was interim head
coach of the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1977 season.
Tom Keating -- Following St. Mel and Michigan, the big defensive tackle starred for
Buffalo, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City between 1964-75, and played on three American Football League championship
teams (1964, 1965, & 1967).
Walt Barnes -- Continuing in the footsteps of Bettis & Keating as a defensive player,
Barnes' NFL career marked with stops at Washington and Denver from 1966-71 following All-American status at Nebraska in 1965.
Lee Loughnane -- (Class of 1964) Lee was a member of the St. Mel concert band as a
trumpet player. He would become a member of the famous rock musical group "Chicago."
John Kucan -- (Class of 1964) The captain of the varsity soccer
team, who went on to become a renowned plastic surgeon in Springfield, Illinois.
Frank Quilici -- (Class of 1956) Became a major league baseball player starting in
the 1965 World Series at second base for the Minnesota Twins. Became manager of the Twins in 1972, a position he held
until 1975. For more information check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Quilici.
MEMORIES & FACTS
From Paul Guerino (Class of 1960):
"Cardinal George's father
graduated from St. Mel in 1923 I believe. He was the highest ranking engineer in the Chicago Public Schools and was in charge
of the Chicago Teachers College North Campus when it opened in 1965. I was a student there in the 1960s and
we developed a friendship because I was a St. Mel graduate there in 1960."
From Art Fox (class of 1948):
"We were the last class with R.O.T.C., won Federal Inspection for this district, which was held downtown
Chicago reviewed by Gen. Wainwright, who surrendered Corrigidor in WWII. We had most sports, boxing, rifle, bowling,
football, varsity basketball and intramural basketball at lunch period. Our basketball team was coached by Johnny
Dee, who went on to coach Notre Dame basketball.
"The high school was razed and now occupies a cleaning store (yr. 2003). The former Catholic Church,
across the street, where we held graduation, is now a Baptist Church.
"When attending Mels, I resided next to elevated directly behind Wrigley Field centerfield scoreboard,
took close to 1 hour travelling on streetcars and buses. "
From John Brezina (class of 1967): "Hi there, I graduated St. Mel in '67.
"As far as I am concerned, the reason it closed was not low morale, rather the fact that the MLK riots in
'68 started around Pulaski and Madison and the entire neighborhood was essentially burnt to the ground. The area is still
like Beirut, or Warsaw after WWII, vacant lots and brickyards.
"I went to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Garfield Park conservatory with my daughter and decided to show
her where I grew up. We went by Kildare and Madison. The east building is long since gone, I went there with Brother
Gregory when the Christian Brothers were pulling out and scavenged stuff left after the auction.
"The west building was being used by the Chicago Board of Education for some sort of early childhood development
center. There was a sign on the door that said 'Drug and weapon free zone, no firearms or drugs allowed within 500
feet.' The brothers are rolling over in their graves."
From Bill Meyer (class of 1956):
"Really enjoyed the history, and have something
you will be interested in. Had to
be late 1920s/early '30s, when no
less than NFL HOFer Paddy Driscoll
(who played with the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals) was the football coach at our Alma! I only recall that because his name was engraved on some of those trophies in the big case on 2nd
floor hallway in the East bldg."
From Robb Soria (class of 1965):
Hi..my name is Robb Soria (although the yearbook
has me captured under the name Richard!)
I actually found your information by "accident"...but, then again,
who doesn't find info on the internet by accident ?
Just wanted to share some "trivia" about some St. Mel memories...
6 years ago, I and my current girlfriend (never married..was always kind of a playboy)...we were on our way to attend
a play in downtown Chicago. We were coming from the far west suburbs, so we took the Eisenhower heading east. It was a beautiful
summer evening about 6pm..when we headed into some serious traffic around the Mannheim exit area. I decided that after driving
15-20 miles an hour wasn't going to help us..so, I exited on Austin and Congress. I decided to take Madison Avenue east...at
least for a few blocks ( I know what you're thinking..."I must be crazy driving through that neighborhood !"). But, I was
anxious to see if the west building of St.Mel was still there. I think this was the year 2006? The lady and I were shaking
all the way ..we finally did pass the building (saw it from the street) and couldn't believe the condition of the building
or the area. I hadn't been to St. Mel High School since late May,1965..a few days before graduation (which took place at the
original McCormick Place).
We finally picked up speed and headed further east taking Lake Street...WILL NEVER
DO THAT AGAIN !
I remember a lot of great things about my attending the school...the brothers were tough...but,
they were always fair and could they teach ! I had four years of cross-country, two years of track, was secretary of the National
Honor Society, and graduated either 2nd or 3rd out of about 400 other seniors (pretty big class for that era). I NEVER
was late for a class or missed even one day during all four years ! Had several senior letters from cross country and had
I believe a 98% average for all 4 years ! When I went to DePaul (had a four year scholarship), the discipline and training
from the brothers made my college life a lot easier. In addition, I managed to work for two very prestigous law firms
and put in a lot of work hours (in spite of the scholarship..needed money for clothes, and other personals). But, again the
bottom line is that the college prep training at St. Mel was fantastic !
I had a feeling that the "end" of the
REAL St. Mel was coming to a close even while I was there. In my first two years, my family lived two blocks away. But, during
my Junior year, we moved to Cicero (my father owned a business there and the neighborhood around St. Mel was quickly changing
for the worse. I remember, several times, both the cross country teams and the football teams were "attacked" by local gangs.
We had no sports facility, so we had to jog down to Garfield Park..about 2 miles east of us. Finally, I think in our senior
year, all practices for football, soccer and cross country was done at Columbus Park (by Austin and Congress). In fact, unfortunately,
I remember an incident that happened during my Sophomore year..my kid sister and I walked from our home to the local library..near
Pulaski and Madison. We were just a block from the library, when two guys punched me in the stomach at the same time...FOR NO
REASON! Just trying to "tell us who owns the neighborhood!"
I lost touch with most of the guys...I was fortunate
to have a lot of friends outside of high school ..so, they became my social life for awhile.
Anyway.. I did
manage to be contacted add attended my 25th reunion..it was held at the old Sabre Room ..in Hickory Hills (don't think its'
still there?) Saw quite of few of the guys..but, again, lost touch.
Unfortunately, I was out of town for my 40th
reunion in 2005. Heard that a lot of my class attended!
I hope to be there for my 50th reunion in 2015 !!!
June 15th, 2012 comes near, I will be celebrating my 40th anniversary as one of the leading life insurance and financial consultants
in the country. I have been ACKNOWLEDGED AS THE FIRST OFFICIAL Hispanic Financial Consultant In USA history! I was hired
by the large corporation-Trans Union Corporation as a financial analyst. But, then went on my own in 1972.
So...in summary, I have a lot to be thankful
for being a graduate of the REAL St. MEL ..Class of 1965 ! Go Knights !!!
Still have my high school sweater with all the letters ! It's a little tight on me !
THERE'S PLENTY OF ROOM FOR MORE INFORMATION!!!
We are in need of more information about St. Mel High School, such as names of other outstanding alumni
and coaches, and photos of the school building and teams that wore the purple and gold of St. Mel. Send us your information
to us at the following addresses:
By USPS: Illinois High School Glory Days