Marshall Auerbach was one of the most prominent matrimonial attorneys in Illinois. He won all five of his appearances before the Illinois Supreme Court and authored the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act in 1977 that allowed for no-fault divorce.
Known by colleagues as the “Dean of Divorce,” Auerbach had a street named after him by the City of Chicago at Dearborn and Randolph, across from the Daley Center.
Auerbach, who passed away Aug. 13 after a battle with pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 86, had another lifelong passion—the Chicago Bears. His family has owned season tickets since 1946, the year the Monsters of the Midway won their fourth NFL championship in seven seasons.
Auerbach first went to games as a boy with his father Sam and brother Steve. As the years passed, Auerbach began taking his own sons, Mike and Keith.
“I remember going when I was young,” said Mike, now 53. “We went to every game. It didn’t matter what the weather was. It was always a blast to go. It was a family event.”
Mike said his father was a “gigantic fan” of the Bears and team founder George Halas, especially admiring the innovations that Papa Bear implemented to create a competitive advantage.
Mike remembers a special game he attended with his father at Soldier Field in 1977, when they watched the Bears rally for an improbable 28-27 victory over the Chiefs. Kansas City took a 27-21 lead on Ed Podolak’s 14-yard touchdown run with just :24 remaining in the game. But Bob Avellini’s 37-yard TD pass to tight end Greg Latta with only :03 to play gave the Bears the win.
“It was the sheer excitement,” Mike said. “It was the confidence of the players that you could see at the time. It was the roar of the crowd. And it was being with my dad at the time. Combine all of that and it was just an incredible experience.”
Marshall Auerbach proudly displayed footballs in his home that were autographed by Bears Hall of Famers Mike Ditka and Walter Payton. Auerbach even had his own jersey that he wore to games, a gift he had received from his son Mike.
“His number in high school was 15, so I had a jersey made for him with that number and I put ‘Auerbach’ on the back,” Mike said. “Brandon Marshall wore No. 15 with the Bears then, so my kids made fun of me. They said, ‘Dad, you could have just gone to the store.’ His first name is Marshall. I could have just gotten one off the shelf.”
The legacy that began for the Auerbachs in 1946 continues today, with a fourth generation of the family attending Bears games. Mike often takes his three sons: Max, 23; Zach, 19; and Simon, 16.
The family no doubt will be thinking of Marshall Sept. 5, which doubles as the date the Bears will open the season against the rival Packers AND the date Marshall was born in 1932. Yes, the team that Auerbach loved will kick off its 100th campaign on what would have been his 87th birthday.
“For him, it’s sort of the quintessential time,” Mike said. “If he would have lasted until that day, he would have been glued to that TV. Although I won’t hear him on Thursday, I know he’ll be cheering the loudest.”