When you join the Lions as a player, social member or a friend, you are always a Lion. But life sometimes takes its toll and some leave us, either before their time or after they have crossed the try line. This is a page dedicated to those we fondly remember and do not want to forget. They are Lions at Rest.
Please use the form at the bottom of the page if you would like us to add anyone.
Ed Kane (d. September 2016)
Ed Kane (1951-2016) passed away earlier this month after his long battle with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. He served as the President of the Chicago Lions from 1983-1986. However, his presence around the playing side has been constant over the years, even while battling ALS. For those of you who attended the golf outing, we were fortunate enough to honor Ed as the first recipient of the Keith Brown President’s Cup. In addition to his tireless efforts with the Lions, Ed started an organization called, Devices 4 the Disabled, which says it all.
“Every time somebody in need gets a cane or a walker or wheelchair, that’s my friend Ed.”
J. “Tyke” Nollman (d. July 2015)
(By Jane Nollman) As most of you know by now my Tyker passed away on July 1st. I will share with you something Tyke wrote back in December.
I choose not to have a memorial service of any kind. I arrived in Brooklyn, NY 4/6/1943 with little fanfare. I depart Chicago, IL, with not much more. I started with so little and ended with so much. There was love throughout – the dearest of all my treasures, my Mort, followed by family and dear friends. These are most cherished. All material things cast to the wind. My years fighting terminal cancer afforded time for me and many to exchange thoughts and feelings of support and love. I participated in my own wake.
I leave with few regrets. Hopefully, most wrongs were righted. My only wishes are:
If I hurt you, I’m sorry, forgive me.
If you hurt me, I forgive you.
I love you.
I bid you farewell.
On July 1, 2015, a legend in Illinois and USA Rugby history passed from this world at the age of 72, but his contributions to the sport will be legacy that carries on for generations. Tyke Nollman, the first president of the Illinois Youth Rugby Association in 2007, was passionate about rugby. A long time member of the Chicago Lions Rugby Club, he also was a big supporter of Notre Dame LaSalette Academy’s rugby program. His most visible legacy will surely be J. Tyke Nollman Field, part of an 8 acre plot purchased by the Chicago Lions adjacent to the Chicago Hope Academy rugby grounds.
Rich Fanning (d. June 2015)
Rich Fanning, Grey Lion and great club supporter passed away on June 7th. Rich was born in Chicago on July 5th, 1945, graduated from Roosevelt University and stayed in Chicago in his professional career. One of Rich’s most interesting projects was working as a bar manager at O’Hare Airport’s Red Carpet Club for 10 years. He is survived by his wife Pat who brought him to his first rugby game where fellow members challenged the big boy to come on out and put his boots on. The rest is history. Rest in Peace, Lion…
Vince Puglisi (d. April 2015)
Our dear friend and fellow Lion, Vince Puglisi, passed away on July 24th succumbing to cancer. Vince played actively with the Lions in the 1970’s and then returning to Chicago for every old boy and milestone anniversary opportunity that presented itself. He was an ardent financial and spiritual supporter of the Black Army. It is with the most heartfelt condolences that we can offer our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
Below is a snippet from his daughter, Anastasia:
For those of you I don’t know, my name is Anastasia Puglisi, and I am the proud daughter of Vince Puglisi. With a broken heart, I am reaching out to share the news of my father’s passing. After a long and courageous battle with cancer, he slipped away yesterday afternoon (July 24th), in his sleep. He never lost his ability to laugh, and his optimistic outlook on life remained in tact until the end despite everything he was up against. I love my father deeply and am devastated by this loss, but I will forever cherish his memory.
My father had true, meaningful friendships all across the globe and excelled at everything he did. He was a rugby star with the Chicago Lions, a very proud alumni of the Air Force Academy, a successful business man, and above all, a dedicated and fiercely loyal father. It was impossible not to be touched by his infectious laughter and warm attitude. My father will be sorely missed, but he is survived by everyone that knew and loved him. I could never imagine a better life than the one he provided for me and will be forever grateful for the love he showed me.
Bob Avery (d. October 2013)
Bob Avery attended the Lions v Columbus rugby match last Saturday Oct 26 at Lions for Hope Field. That same evening he suffered a massive stroke and passed away on Oct 31 with his family at his bedside. He is survived by his wife Becky, and children Susan and Cynthia.
Bob was the third President of the Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club taking the helm in 1973. He held two terms as the Leader of the Pride. During his years of playing Bob played hooker for the Lions and after his playing days were over he gave back to the game including many years as a referee. He made even more friends with a whistle around his neck.
Bob attended The Hill School in Pottstown, Pa for high school and then went on an graduated from Lake Forest College with B.A. and MBA degrees. He has two daughters. Susan is married to Mike Hayes and he was a proud “Pops” of grandson Colin.
Steve Hall (d. July 2013)
Steve was tragically killed in a car crash in Fortuna, California. He died from his injuries at Redwood Memorial Hospital.
Steve played for the Lions on the wing in the 90s and was also a UIC alum.
He was famous for his pre game sayings of, “Are you ready to meet Jesus?” and, “The forecast calls for pain”, among others. If you met him, he always left you with a Steve Hall moment.
He will be sorely missed by his friends.
Walter Bodden (d. March 2013)
Walter passed on March 29, 2013, age 52, due to cancer.
Beloved husband of Seba for 26 years.
Loving father of Katherine, Michael and Emily.
Chicago Lions second row. CARFU representative.
Jack Harding (d. January 2013)
Jack Harding, captain of the Lions from 1965 thru 1967, and uncle of Lion Ed Harding, died in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been battling Parkinson’s and Leukemia for several years.
An avid rugby player for many years, Jack was instrumental getting the newly formed Chicago Lions club off to a solid start, captaining the side in ‘65 and ‘66 (left, holding the cup).
He started his rugby career as a youth in Musselburgh Scotland, when he moved to Toronto Canada; he played with the Toronto Scottish before moving to Chicago and taking up with the Lions. Jack was always a larger than life character; he played the game hard and partied hard afterwards. He had many great stories of his rugby times on and off the field and always had a true love of the Lions. He will be missed.
Jeoffrey Close (d. 12/2012)
It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Jeoffrey Close who played rugby with the Lions in the 80s. The Chicago Lions old boys, players, supporters and friends express their deepest condolences to the Close family. Rest in peace, brother.
Paul McShane (d. 2012)
Paul McShane passed way on February 22, 2012, in Florida from complications resulting from a blood clot in the aorta. Paul was on the Lions in the 1970s and played for several years thereafter. On the Lions, he played on three Midwest Championships squads before moving to Wisconsin. He leaves behind his wife, Mary, a daughter, Katie and son, Tim. His friends and the Old Boy Lions will miss him dearly.
Keith Brown (1950 – 2011)
Keith J. Brown passed away peacefully on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 after a battle with Melanoma Skin Cancer. He was Executive Vice President at Klaff Realty, LP, a private Chicago-based real estate investment firm that specializes in the acquisition of distressed commercial property on a national scale. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 18, 1950 and is survived by his wife, Lisa Quinn, and two sons, Colin and Brendan. He also leaves behind a Black Army…
Keith was President of the Chicago Lions Rugby Club and a board member of the USA Rugby Foundation. Keith had served as President for five years, until this past August when he stepped down. He was instrumental in realigning the Lions when he first became involved as part of the building committee in 2005. At this time the Lions had assets in both the School Street Clubhouse and the North Park Tap. He spearheaded the group to consolidate and sell both using the proceeds to purchase an income producing six flat building on Chicago’s Northwest side. The rental units provide a steady income for the Lions as well as providing lodging for newly transplanted players to get their feet on the ground.
Keith was also the leader in securing the present playing pitch and clubhouse at our Lions for Hope Field in conjunction with The Hope Academy. His work with Hope Academy was monumental. I will be submitting a proposal to the Lions Executive Committee to rename the grounds Keith Brown Hope Memorial Field.
Mike Cavanagh (1952 – 2006)
(By Ray Karenas) I first ran into Mike on the rugby pitch when he played with Southern Illinois University and I with Illinois State University in 1975. Actually, he ran into me and flattened me. My respect for him started right then and there. SIU and ISU scheduled home/away matches each Spring and Fall, so we got to run into each other quite often back then, him more often into me. After his graduation from SIU in 1976, he joined the Chicago Lions. I only really got to know him once I became a member of the Black two years later in the Spring of 1979. He played inside centre and I at wing for many, many matches joining ivory-man Harry Yaseen, his mate from SIU. We then joined forces on the ice rink and played organized league ice hockey along with his brother-in-law, Tim Morgan on the Yellow Jackets for many years. As age started to slow us down, diminish our hair lines and increase our waist size, we continued to play with the Grey Lions, both on the rugby pitch traveling to Aspen for many years, as he organized all of those efforts, and on the ice with the Lions Old Boys up at Skokie Skatium for over a decade.
I lived in Korea for two years back in 1991 to 1993 and while there I just happened to call the Lions Clubhouse one night after the Blackhawks made it into the NHL Stanley Cup Finals and who answered the phone but Mike, who was there with some mates celebrating the birth of his daughter, Grace. Grace and Karla were resting comfortably in the hospital and Mike’s elation, glow and happiness was felt all the way in Seoul. Just listening to him exult in fatherhood was a precursor to my happiness with my two children. Pretty cool stuff.
Mike was diagnosed with Colon Cancer three years ago. He continued his battle with it after surgery removed quite a bit of his colon. But due to his courage, his heart and his spirit one would never have known what was actually going on in his body.
This past October I organized the ‘Mike Cavanagh Appreciation Day’ for us old boys to get together to play a match down in Lemont at the Blaze’s pitch. I suggested to Mike that he come out and be our honorary captain, maybe take kicks at goal for us and convert all of our tries. Well, he didn’t like the setup I had, said something about not liking all of the hullabaloo but he said he’d come out and hang out and have a couple of beers with us. Well, show up he did. At half time he snuck away into the bushes and as if it were a phone booth, donned the black jersey, shorts and socks and waited until my eye caught his. With about 20 minutes left in the match I came off and Mike came on. He knocked heads, tackled hard and generally was the Cavs of old. What a joy, what a sight! Incredible. Unbeknownst to all but Bob MacArthur, Mike confided with Bob and showed him his surgically implanted chest catheter. He told Bob that if this thing cracked or opened up and he started to bleed just be sure to pinch the plastic tube and then find the damn cap. Obviously he came away unscathed, we all adjourned to beers, food and stories and everyone left knowing they caught an unbelievable event knowing now the events of this week.
Mike was a doer, a mentor and a confidant. On the pitch he usually was the captain and was both a physical and cerebral force. The kind you’d like to have 15 of wearing your jersey.
I am only too honoured to have known ye…
My heart goes out to Karla, his wife, and Grace and Molly, his daughters, and all of his immediate family and to our extended Chicago Lions Family.
We all hurt with you but celebrate the time we had with Michael. May God Bless You!
Denis Dunne (d. 2011)
Denis Dunne started playing football in the era of the leather helmet and no face mask. Good prep for his later found rugby. Although tall, he was an undernourished end playing single platoon football at Cornell. Strong breezes were his enemy.
Next he went to sea and became a Navy hard hat diver in the icy and dark waters of the world’s oceans and harbors, later admitting that he was in part influenced by John Wayne in”Wake of the Red Witch”.
Then came rugby.
He was the rugby player who pushed in every scrum , who loved the ruck and maul and who showed up every minute of every game of every season – mud, snow, heat, whatever. He broke almost every bone in his back yet got patched up, added a few metal parts and returned to the pitch and played as if he had something to prove. In truth, he had nothing to prove, he just loved the game. He was always the gentleman, the person who seemed to have invented polish, who charmed all who met him and for whom the girls would always sigh.
He was ever brave and gallant as when he plunged into a burning London pub and dragged the damsel from the fire — as the Herald Tribune duly noted. He was a man among men who loved his hunting and bird dogs. He was as comfortable in a log cabin as in a Board room and his most recent Christmas card showed him mushing his beloved on a dogsled through the snows of the North Woods.
Denis Dunne was the Financial Advisor of the USRFF for many years who would truly be embarrassed by this gushy tribute. We post this tribute because Denis Dunne epitomized the character and qualities of a man and teammate that we all admired and he shared those with us. He was charming, bright, witty and incredibly resilient.
Too soon gone-not to be forgotten. On February 5, 2011 Denis Dunne completed his journey through life. All who knew him mourn his passing.
Brian Mullery (1957 – 2007)
Brian Mullery was not just my friend.
He was OUR FRIEND.
If you saw him back in 1982 when the ISU OLDE GOLD ALUMNI played together this is what you may remember him to look like.
Geoff Ferguson (d. 1996)
Geoff played fly half and scrum half in the early ’80’s thru early ’90’s. He had graduated from Illinois State University where he also played rugby.
Rob Mier (d. 1995)
Rob Mier was one of the unsung heroes of the Chicago Lions in the 80s and early 90s when he played 2nd and 3rd XV scrum half.
Rob had a distinguished career in Urban Planning.
“Mier founded the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs’ Center for Urban and Economic Development in 1978, which to this day works with community groups to improve the economic states of their urban neighborhoods. He also created Chicago Works Together, the city’s 1984 economic development plan, working as Mayor Harold Washington’s commissioner of economic development. As with everything he did, Mier infused both endeavors with a steadfast focus on social justice, equality and diversity.”
He passed away in 1995 at the age of 52, from exposure to Agent Orange during his service in the Vietnam War.
(By Dick Smith) Bill was an unsung hero and a very good player. I remember one time after the main game at Duke Child’s Field, those who did not get to play played a 7-a-side game for two 30 minute halves – much too long. Anyway, Bill broke his collar bone and was out for six to eight weeks. A really good guy too – didn’t say much but I just know he couldn’t believe the kind of fun we were having and enjoyed it all the more. He lost his life after he went to help a couple being mugged by 3 or 4 thugs and was murdered, a great loss to humanity, a wonderful man on and off the field. Bill played #8. The demise of such a good bloke was a very sad business indeed.
We would also like to mention:
- Brian Burke
- Dick “Sandy” Carrigan
- Kitch Christie
- Ziggy Gac
- Doc Kelly
- Mike King
- Mark LaGuardia
- Mark Lyons
- Michael Mavor
- Gene Moriarty
- Jack Painter
- Tada Ratanproek
- John Root
- Jim Russell
- Geoff Schweger
Leaders on and off the field for many of our formative years (1960s and 1970s), without whom the Lions would have had a greater struggle to achieve what the Club has become.
. . . .