Friday, July 16, 2010

Rick Morrissey on Leo High School President Dan McGrath - 'Bricks,Mortar and Truth'

(Photo by Brian Jackson/Sun-Times)

Yesterday, I drove out to far suburban( well, it is far -what with truck traffic on 79th Street, Rt. 83 and all that) Naperville to meet with Leo Man Bill Koloseike (Leo '45)-Chicagoland's Bill Kay the Car King.

Bill has just come back from Kenya where he built and helped dedicate a Catholic school, as a Jesuit volunteer. Bill Koloseike was great Leo football star who traded a college career for a hitch in the United States Marines at the end of World War II. After his service, Bill took a business degree from Loyola and began his career as a Chrysler Dealer - the biggest. Bill retired from the day-to-day work and learned Spanish to teach Mexican kids in Aurora and work as a Jesuit volunteer and build schools out of his own wallet in Africa. Bill wrote me a check that had a numeral and six zeroes and asked about Dan McGrath, Leo's new President. Bill met with Dan and Leo Principal Phil Mesina at Ken's Restaurant on Western Ave. a few weeks ago.

I let Bill know that Dan had already hit the ground at a dead sprint, even though his contract does not kick in until August. We agreed that things look good for our school.

This morning, I went on line and found that Rick Morrissey had written a superb piece on Dan McGrath and Leo High School. I stopped at Beverly's Java Express and met Larry Lynch, recently retired from the U.S. Secret Service. "Hickey, you see The Times? It's great!" Larry, was on his way to Loop and asked about the Alumni Golf Outing. I assured him that I would be there and would not hold up the progress by playing myself. " You are a good man, Hickey, . . .some days." True, in so many ways. I got my coffee and headed to Leo with the paper. It is wonderful.

Here is the meat for your breakfast!

. . .A few months ago, McGrath, the former sports editor of the Tribune, told me he was considering a job as president of Leo High School on the South Side. I laughed. He was kidding, right? Or perhaps misinformed again? His entire professional life had been devoted to journalism, either as a writer or an editor. How could this be?

And then I thought, of course. Some things are true and right, and this is one of them. He's a 1968 Leo graduate, and he has given time and effort to the school. He has served on the school's advisory board. He loves the place, as much as a man can love bricks and mortar and ideas.

And that's the truth.

The new president of Leo will start work next month, proving there is life after a newspaper career and that the concept of giving back is still alive and well.

''I don't want to sound all 'Field of Dreams,' but it felt like a calling,'' he said. "It felt like at this time of my life, this is something I could do and maybe I should do.''

Leo is a struggling, all-boys Catholic high school at 79th and Sangamon streets in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. Even though its enrollment is below 200, it has been very successful in basketball and track. Ninety-four percent of the students continue their education after high school, yet a challenging economy has Leo fighting for its life.

It's a comeback story McGrath would love to write.

Click my post title for Rick Morrisey's superb story about a wonderful man and the great school he will guide. God Bless All Leo Men and People Who Help Us!

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