"Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it." --George Halas
George Halas was a lifelong Illinois resident who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Fame with the first class in 1963. He was a founder of the National Football League in 1920 and the only founder still active with the league on its 60th anniversary in 1980. He owned the Chicago Bears for sixty-three years from 1920 to 1983 and was head coach of the Bears for forty years in four different periods.
George was born in Chicago on Feb. 2, 1895 to a family of Czech immigrants. He graduated from Crane Tech High School in 1913. George was 20 years old during the summer of 1915 when he had a temporary job with Western Electric. On Saturday morning, July 24, he set out from home on his way to join 7,000 thousand company employees on five boats leaving the Chicago River to sail for Michigan City, Indiana for the fifth annual company picnic. If he had been on time, George was supposed to ride along with 2,500 other passengers on the tour boat SS Eastland. A light rain was falling and Bradfield's Orehcestra was playing on the promenade. George was running late and by the time he arrived at the wharf between Clark and LaSalle after 7:30 AM, The Eastland had already rolled over on its port side when a large number of people had suddenly surged to one side of the top-heavy boat. Almost 841 passengers, all Western Electric employees, were killed or drowned when the boat rolled over. Almost all were in the language of that time, "Bohemian" or Czech residents of Cicero. There were also more than 1,500 survivors. George Halas was not among either group because he was late.