The Leo High School Family lost one of its most illustrious and beloved members on Nov. 19 when Bob Hallberg died. A career basketball coach, Bob was a standout player and team captain for the Leo lightweights before graduating in 1962 and moving on to Chicago State University. He was 75 and had been diagnosed with liver cancer in November 2018.
“We at Leo extend our sincere condolences to Bob’s family and his many friends,” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “Bob was more than a great Leo Man, he was a great man, period, a giant within Chicago’s basketball community. The thousands of young men and women who played for him over the years considered it a privilege.”
Bob embarked on his coaching career at Kennedy High School shortly after graduating from Chicago State in 1966. It was obviously a labor of love, as he would coach for nearly 50 years and win more than 1,000 games at Kennedy, St. Xavier University, Chicago State and the University of Illinois-Chicago.
After being the unfortunate and inadvertent middle man in a political battle at UIC, Bob left and returned to St. Xavier to start a women’s program in 1999. It was the crowning glory of his coaching career; the Lady Cougars won 500 games and 13 conference championships and reached the title game of the NAIA Division II national tournament in 2018.
Bob also took over as SXU’s athletic director in 2001 and helped its overall program become a model of small-college excellence on the courts and playing fields and in the classroom.
“He was a great boss but a better man and a better friend,” St. Xavier football coach Mike Feminis said. “Bob meant everything to St. Xavier. You can make the case that he was the most important person in the history of St. Xavier.”
Indeed, the playing floor at SXU’s Shannon Center was named Bob Hallberg Court in 2013. The honor went beyond his won-loss record and X’s and O’s.
“It was what he stood for, how he treated you, how he made you feel,” former SXU standout Annie Byrne said. “He genuinely cared about you as a person. They don’t make them like that anymore.”
Bob is survived by his wife, Linda; sons Bob, Bill (Deanna) and Brian (Joy), and eight grandchildren. Services were held Monday, Nov. 25 at Our Lady of Loretto Church in Hometown.