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The Bears Brought Family Of Alum Peter Perez To Halas Hall

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The Bears brought the family of the late Peter Perez, who played offensive guard for the team in 1945, to Halas Hall on Friday to commemorate Latino Heritage Month.

Early in the 1900s, Perez’s parents left Zacatecas, Mexico, where they were born and raised, and moved to Aurora, Illinois. Perez felt proud of his background and his ability to represent it in the NFL as one of the first Latino athletes to play in the league.

Patrick, Paul, and Michael, three of Perez’s five kids, traveled to Lake Forest with their families to view the Bears’ Latino Heritage Month display, which features their father. Roberto Garza and Rick Casares, two other Bears alumni, are also highlighted.

“I’m proud of not only what the Bears did for our father, but for Rick Casares, Roberto Garza and the Latino community throughout the Chicagoland area,” Patrick said. “We cannot thank the Chicago Bears organization enough, cannot thank [Bears historical archives assistant] Claire Blakemore enough. This was a lifelong dream for my father and to be able to come and see the dream go full circle, it’s priceless.”

Additionally spending time with the Perez family on Friday were Vice President Brian J. McCaskey and Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey.

George added that the Bears “were thrilled to have Peter’s family at Halas Hall for a visit because as his son, Patrick, said, his dad opened doors for a lot of people.”

Ray Eliot, who coached Perez while he was playing college football for the University of Illinois, also wrote the Bears a letter of recommendation for Perez. Perez only played one season for Chicago, but Patrick claims his father always had positive things to say about his time there.

“When we were kids, we would go to the alumni games because he and my mom would go to the dinners,” Patrick said. “He talked about it, what it was like. When we were kids, he was our first football coach when we played Catholic grade school football. We never had a better coach in our life because he took the things that he learned here and applied them to coaching us.”

Perez returned to Aurora once his football career was over, worked in law enforcement for 34 years, and was sworn in as a police officer in 1968. Perez received the inaugural Hector Jordan Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hispanic Illinois State Law Enforcement Association in 1990.

The Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board has also established an award in honor of Perez, who passed away in 1999. The yearly accolade recognizes a local person for outstanding leadership and contributions to the Hispanic community.

“The fact that our father passed away in 1999 and he is still being remembered here today by the Chicago Bears in a positive light is [special],” Patrick said “In the city of Aurora where he grew up, they named a street after him in 2005. The Hispanic community in Aurora gives out an award every year in my dad’s name. He set the bar very high, and I will never be as proud as anyone in my life as I am my father.”

It was a dream come true for Patrick, Paul, and Michael to have their father’s name and life story displayed in Halas Hall nearly 80 years after he made his Bears debut.

“Just immense pride,” Paul said of his emotions being at Halas Hall. “Pride in our father, pride in this organization. It’s been a unifier in our community in Aurora – it’s Bear Country. It’s known for my father, known for the Bears. We’re just recipients of that and just super proud of the opportunity to witness this ourselves.”

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