“I am proud to call Chicago home because of people like Lucille.”
— Rahm Emanuel
In her early days as an usher at Wrigley Field, Lucille Coughlin would be the first to greet Harry Caray as he walked onto the field before the games.
“I always remember he went out on the field first and so I had to open the gate for him,” Lucille says. “He’d always give me this big kiss, and he had these big, wet lips.”
Lucille was in her seventies at the time and the same age as Harry Caray. She remembers Mr. Caray telling her, “‘We old folks have gotta stick together.’”
Happy Birthday, Lucille!
One hundred years ago today, Lucille Fischer was born in Roscoe Village on August 19, 1914, to Clemens and Leonore Fischer. Lucille’s last name was misspelled on her birth certificate as “Fisher.”
“I led a weird life from the beginning,” she says.
Just two miles east on Addison St., the first-place Chicago Federals were playing the Baltimore Terrapins in the newly built Weegham Park between Clark and Sheffield. The Chi-Feds, as they were called, won the game 5-4, but they would eventually finish the season in second place behind the Indianapolis Hoosiers.
Like Wrigley Field, as Weegham Park later was named, Lucille is celebrating her 100th birthday. Were he still alive, Harry Caray too would have hit the century mark on March 1 of this year.
“Harry Caray was wonderful,” Lucille says.
The Witch of Wrigley
Lucille began her career as a Wrigley Field usher when she was 74. She and a group of friends had been planning to volunteer at the Chicago Theater after it was renovated, but after two productions the theater had run out of money to pay the acts.
“We volunteered a lot after my husband died,” Lucille says. “We volunteered at a lot of different places: hotels, restaurants, the zoo. We heard Wrigley was looking for help, so we thought they wanted volunteers too.”
It turned out that Wrigley was not looking for volunteers. It was looking for paid employees.
“So we decided we’d stay for a year, and then we decided to stay two years because the following year they were gonna have something big,” she says. “But then after that we knew everybody and we had no intention of leaving.”
Throughout her tenure as a Wrigley Field usher, Lucille became a familiar face and ruled with an iron fist. Her knack for keeping kids in line while sniffing out seat-stealers became legendary, and she eventually earned the nickname “The Witch of Wrigley.”
“There were season-ticket holders and they’re not there everyday, but they know you and they come back and we know them too,” she says. “If somebody was in their seat, you’d know right away that it wasn’t them. Out!”
Lucille worked at Wrigley for 20 years from 1989 until 2009.
“The season-ticket holders, some of them I remember when I started were with their fathers, and then they got married and now their kids took over,” says Lucille. “They never gave up their seats. You’d see two and three generations in the seats.”
Along the way, she seated celebrities as well as politicians, including former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and her son, Father Dan Coughlin, who was U.S. House Chaplain from 2000 until 2011.
Win or lose, after the game you could find Lucille with a Cuba Libre in her hand, chatting with friends and fellow Cubs fans at a Wrigleyville watering hole.
In 2002, when she was 88, Lucille was named Usher of the Year. As a Congressman representing Illinois’s 5th district, Rahm Emanuel honored Lucille with this tribute on the floor of the House of Representatives:
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in recognition of a truly amazing woman, Lucille Coughlin. Last year, Lucille was named the top usher at Wrigley Field, home of the World Famous Chicago Cubs. While we are all extremely proud of Lucille for becoming the Cubs’ “top usher,” we are even more impressed that she achieved this at 88
A true Chicago Northsider, Lucille is a graduate of Lakeview High School–one of Chicago’s finest public schools. She was married at St. Andrew Parish and lived 40 years of her life in the Sauganash neighborhood. Lucille raised three children, one of whom is our own Chaplain, Reverend Daniel Coughlin. Today, she lives near Lake Michigan and enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren and eight great-
Approximately 15 years ago, Lucille and her friends at St. Andrew began looking for ways to stay involved in their community. After exploring a few options, they decided on working at Wrigley. Among the original group of St. Andrew’s parishioners who began ushering at Wrigley Field, only Lucille remains, working nearly every day. Because she is universally loved and recognized for her cheerful and friendly demeanor, I share the joy felt by so many thousands of Cubs fans who are thrilled she has been honored with the Usher of the Year award for the 2002 season.
During her years at Wrigley, Lucille has witnessed the addition of lights to the field, rejoiced when the Cubs won the National League East title in 1989, lamented the retirement of Cub legend Ryan Sandberg, mourned the loss of Harry Carey, and celebrated many of Sammy Sosa’s 505 home runs. Knowing Lucille, she’ll be around when the Cubs finally return to the World Series.
But if you ask Lucille why she still works, she will tell you that it’s partly to stay active, but mostly because of the great friends she has made. As an usher she has met some of the players, past and present, as well as many important public officials. But, as interesting as the VIPs are, it is the strong bonds she has made with co-workers and fans which keeps her coming back.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to call Chicago home because of people like Lucille. When she retired, she chose to stay active and involved in the community she has called home for more than 88 years. This August, Lucille will turn 89, and I hope to see her at Wrigley for years to come. Lucille Coughlin is a great Chicagoan. I congratulate her on her successes, and I wish her a happy birthday and the best in whatever
life sends her way.
Lucille retired from her post on her 95th birthday. She was honored on the field and recognized again for her love and dedication to the Cubs community.
Two years later, Lucille began using a walker. Father Coughlin, who was still the House Chaplain, stepped down from his post and moved back to Chicago from Washington. Lucille moved into The Breakers at Edgewater Beach on Chicago’s north side, where she still lives today, with Father Coughlin living just down the street.
“When she did move [to the Breakers], I was pleased,” says Father Coughlin. “When she moved here, it was a reassurance for me that somebody would always be there. The Breakers was a real blessing.”
Even at 100, Lucille is as whip-smart as ever. All of us at Senior Lifestyle would like to wish Lucille the happiest of birthdays!