Former Bears executive Jerry Vainisi passed away in Oak Park Tuesday at the age of 80.
Vainisi spent 15 seasons with the Bears, starting as the club's controller in 1972. He then spent time as treasurer and in-house counsel before serving as general manager from 1983-87, a period that included the 1985 Super Bowl championship team.
In 1983, Vainisi hired current Bears president/CEO Ted Phillips as team controller.
"I will always appreciate the few years I spent with Jerry and am forever grateful for his decision to hire me as the Bears controller in 1983, which started my 40-year career with the Bears," Phillips said. "My thoughts and prayers are with him and his entire family."
Following his time with the Bears, Vainisi worked for the Detroit Lions then helped create and head the football operations for the World League of American Football (which later rebranded as NFL Europe). After his time in professional football, Vainisi took over Hinshaw & Culbertson's sports and entertainment law division in Chicago then bought Forest Park Bank before becoming its chairman and CEO.
Vainisi is a Chicago area native who graduated from Georgetown University and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is survived by his very good friend Doris L. Vainisi, five children and 14 grandchildren.