2024 Inductees and Hometown Hero

Arts & Humanities


Ed Ward

Ed Ward (1945 - 2019) left an indelible mark on the Irish-American community. Ed was a trailblazer whose ideas, advice, guidance, and mentorship resonated far and wide. Ward’s family hails from Co. Meath, and Ward himself was born in Chicago and attended high school in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He later graduated from Marquette University and attained a law degree from MU Law School. Ward served in the Peace Corps and the United States Army during the Vietnam War, where he earned a bronze star. Following his service, Ward returned to Milwaukee, where he began orchestrating the immensely successful Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Ward's legacy is most prominently associated with the founding of Milwaukee Irish Fest in 1981, which has evolved into the world's largest Irish festival. The festival boasts performances by over 100 acts on 17 stages and attracts more than 100,000 attendees. The festival stands as a testament to Ward's vision and determination. In 1992, he initiated the Ward Irish Music Archives, a repository housing the largest collection of Irish sheet music, wax cylinders, recordings, and movies in North America. Two years later, Ward established the Irish Fest Foundation, a charitable organization contributing to various causes globally. Over the years, the foundation has granted more than $600,000 to non-profit entities in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, and the United States.

Ed Ward's influence extends well beyond the confines of the festival and its affiliated organizations. He became a linchpin in elevating Celtic culture as he actively engaged with and supported other Irish festivals across America. Ward leveraged his education and experience and frequently provided support to fellow Irish organizations striving to showcase Irish culture in their distinctive ways. Ward also excelled in fostering relationships with entertainers globally, enabling Milwaukee Irish Fest to adopt a forward-thinking and innovative approach to booking entertainment.

A source of inspiration for Irish musicians, colleagues, and friends globally, Ward garnered recognition through numerous awards for his service to the community. Marquette University Alumnae honored him with the A Person for Others award, acknowledging his outstanding contributions. Additionally, he received accolades for his unwavering commitment to promoting Irish culture in America, exemplified by Ireland's Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

Beyond his involvement in the Irish Fest, Ward served on the boards of directors for CelticMKE, Catholic Financial Life, St. Charles Youth and Family Services, and Tosa Tonight and was an active Rotarian. As a professional, he enjoyed the relationships he nurtured throughout his time as a Certified Financial Planner with Morgan Stanley. The thing that brought Ward the most joy in life was his family.

Ed Ward's life and legacy exemplify a passionate commitment to fostering cultural exchange, supporting charitable causes, and leaving an enduring impact on the Irish-American community and beyond.

Business & Industry


Andrew McKenna

Andrew McKenna (1929 – 2023) was one of Chicago’s premier businessmen. He is nicknamed “St. Andrew of the Boardroom” because most of his work happens behind the scenes and he is a highly sought-after figure in the field of corporate governance. He served as Chairman of McDonald’s Corporation from 2004-2016 and also owend Schwarz Supply Source. He was a director of Ryan Specialty Group, the Chicago Bears Football Club and Skyline Corporation.

The father of seven and grandfather of 24, Andrew was a native Chicagoan who himself was one of six children. His father, Andrew J. McKenna, was a first- generation Irish American, with roots in Mayo and Monaghan, who joined the Dunn Coal Company in 1917 as a clerk and worked his way up the corporate rungs until he retired in 1971 as its president and CEO.

He and his family were highly active in the Catholic community in Chicago and that balance of family, religion, and civic service is one that Andy always upheld. “I think family life is very important,” He said in an interview with Leaders magazine. “There is probably never a weekend when we don’t have some family experience.”

In addition to his private sector positions, he was a director of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the Big Shoulders Fund, the Ireland Economic Advisory Board, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, Civic Committee and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. He called for other corporate leaders to involve themselves with the community around them. “All of us need to recognize there are community needs we must respond to, and while it may be personally fulfilling to help, it’s also critically important to do so,” he said.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a B.S. in business administration, McKenna was awarded the university’s Laetare Medal in 2000. He served as the chairman of the board of trustees from 1992-2000 and was elected an Emeritus Trustee in 2009. McKenna is a graduate of the DePaul University Law School where he received a Doctor of Jurisprudence. He passed away on February 7, 2023 at the age of 93.

Public Service


William Donovan

William Joseph ("Wild Bill") Donovan (1883 – 1959) was a United States soldier, lawyer, intelligence officer and diplomat. He is best remembered as the wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services. He is also known as the "Father of American Intelligence" and the "Father of Central Intelligence." Donovan is the only person to have received the four highest awards in the United States: The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Security Medal. Donovan was born in Buffalo, New York to first generation immigrants Anna Letitia "Tish" Donovan (née Lennon) and Timothy P. Donovan, of Ulster and County Cork origins respectively. He was as quarterback on the Columbia football team and a classmate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Columbia Law School. Eager for military service, he joined with some society men to form a cavalry troop known as the Silk Stocking Boys, who chased the Mexican bandit Pancho Villa along the Rio Grande.

When America entered the WWI in 1917, Donovan won a commission as a major with “the Fighting 69th,” a regiment of poor Irish toughs. He later led his troops them across the Ourcq River in northern France. Hemmed in by machine guns on three sides, the Fighting 69th took no prisoners while losing 600 of 1,000 men. For his bravery, Donovan won the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest award.

Going into battle near the Marne on October 14, he ignored the officers’ custom of covering or stripping off insignia of rank and instead sallied forth wearing his medals. The next morning he was wounded but refused to be evacuated and continued to direct his men until even American tanks were turning back under German fire. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in this engagement. The Fighting 69th, or what was left of it, returned home to a ticker-tape parade up Fifth Avenue.

After the war, Donovan was Increasingly drawn to Europe. In 1939, he met Spain’s Generalissimo Francisco Franco on the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, where he observed Nazi Germany’s weapons and warplanes. He visited Mussolini in Italy and journeyed through various nations along the periphery of Hitler’s Germany. Donovan was convinced that war with the U.S. was inevitable and took this message to his old classmate, FDR. In 1941, Donovan was appointed by Roosevelt to create a central intelligence agency within the U.S. This later became the OSS, then the CIA, a military agency charged with collecting foreign intelligence and carrying out counterpropaganda and covert action operations.

In 1953 he was appointed the Ambassador of Thailand by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. Donovan died in 1959. At the time, Eisenhower referred to Donovan as "the last hero."



John McEnroe

John McEnroe (born February 16, 1959) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player. He was known for his shot-making and volleying skills, his rivalries and his confrontational on-court behavior. McEnroe is the only male player since the inception of the ATP rankings in 1973 to simultaneously hold the world No. 1 rankings in both singles and doubles.

McEnroe was the top-ranked player on 14 separate occasions between 1980 and 1985 and spent a total of 170 weeks at the top of the rankings. He finished his career with 77 singles titles on the ATP Tour and 78 doubles titles, the highest men's combined total of the Open Era. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles (three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open), nine Grand Slam men's doubles titles, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title. McEnroe also won a record eight season ending championships, comprising five WCT Finals titles and three Masters Grand Prix titles from twelve final appearances at those two events. He was named the ATP Player of the Year and the ITF World Champion three times each: in 1981, 1983 and 1984. McEnroe is a former Captain of the United States Davis Cup team. As a player McEnroe represented the States and was part of the winning team on four occasions in the Davis Cup. He continues to play tennis and competes in senior events on the ATP Champion Tour.

McEnroe was born in Wiesbaden, West Germany, to Kay (née Tresham) and John Patrick McEnroe, Sr. His father was at the time stationed with the United States Air Force. McEnroe's paternal grandmother hailed from County Westmeath and his grandfather grew up in County Cavan. His grandparents left Ireland independently and settled in New York in 1915. McEnroe grew up in Douglaston, Queens. He started playing tennis when he was eight years old. When he was nine, his parents enrolled him in the Eastern Lawn Tennis Association, and he soon started playing regional tournaments. He then began competing in national juniors tournaments.

McEnroe began to make his mark as an 18-year-old amateur in 1977. He won both the Junior singles and mixed doubles titles at the French Open. He later progressed through the singles qualifying tournament at Wimbledon after which he was recruited by coach Dick Gould and entered Stanford University. In 1978 he won the NCAA singles title and led the Stanford team to an NCAA championship.

In 1999, McEnroe was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999. He is active in philanthropy and tennis development. In 2007, McEnroe received the Philippe Chatrier Award (the ITF's highest accolade) for his contributions to tennis both on and off the court.

He now works as a sports commentator in tennis and has regularly appeared in US national telecasts of Grand Slam tennis matches on such networks as CBS, NBC, USA, and ESPN. He is also a commentator on Wimbledon for the BBC in the UK.



Sister Patricia Crowley, OSB

Sister Patricia Crowley, OSB (1939 - 2023) Benedictine Sister Patricia Crowley (May 13, 1939 - October 14, 2023) dedicated her life to serving people experiencing homelessness and other social justice issues. 

Patricia “Patsy” Ann Crowley was born in Chicago, the oldest daughter of Patrick and Patricia C. Crowley, founders of the Christian Family Movement. She became a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago in 1958. She received her B.A in English Literature in 1965 from Mundelein College and an M.A. in Catechetical Theology from Manhattan College in 1970.

Sr. Patricia taught elementary grades at St. Lambert Parish in Skokie, Illinois and at Queen of All Saints in Chicago. She then served as instructor in English, Theology and French at St. Scholastica High School in Chicago for twelve years. In 1979, she began her social service work in community and homelessness initiative at Howard Area Community Center where she was the Executive Director for ten years. In this role, she expanded the services of the Center to get at the roots of poverty, establishing a childcare center, dental clinic and job counseling as well as a community organizing program. She then spent two years traveling abroad in Central America studying how women living in poverty organize themselves politically.

For the next 14 years, she served as Director of Deborah’s Place on the north side of Chicago, moving it from being an emergency overnight shelter for women into a comprehensive center providing temporary and permanent housing, health care and paths to employment. This was followed by her role as Director of the Chicago Continuum of Care in which she coordinated city agencies working to combat homelessness.

From 2007 to 20015 she served as Prioress of the St. Scholastica Benedictine Monastery in Chicago and from 2012 to 2016 as President of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses. She also served as Chair of the Board of Directors and a very active participant in the Bethany House of Hospitality. It was her initiative that brought together 30 Chicago area women’s religious congregations and one men’s congregation to address the situation of young women who arrive in the United States as “unaccompanied youth.”  

Later in life, she taught spiritual direction in Namibia and coordinated a monthly lectio divina prayer group online, having earned a master's degree in catechetical theology from Manhattan College in New York and certification in spiritual direction from the Siena Center in Racine, Wisconsin. She was a team member with the Ignatian Spirituality Project and served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations.



Joseph P. Kerwin

Joseph P. Kerwin, M.D. is an American physician and former NASA astronaut. He was the first physician to be selected for astronaut training and served as a crewmember of Skylab 2, the first crewed mission to Skylab, the first American orbital space station.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, as the seventh child of an Irish Catholic family. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from College of the Holy Cross in 1953 and a doctor of medicine degree from Northwestern University Medical School in 1957. He attended the United States Navy School of Aviation Medicine, being designated a naval flight surgeon in December 1958. Kerwin was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in June 1965 and was one of the capsule communicators on Apollo 13 in 1970. He served as science pilot for the Skylab 2 mission in 1973. He was subsequently in charge of the on-orbit branch of the Astronaut Office, where he coordinated astronaut activity involving rendezvous satellite deployment and retrieval, and other Space Shuttle payload operations. Kerwin was part of the NBC broadcasting team for coverage of the launch and was the one who uttered the words during Apollo 13: "Farewell, Aquarius, and we thank you."

From 1982–83, Kerwin served as NASA's senior science representative in Australia. In this capacity, he served as liaison between NASA's Office of Space Tracking and Data Systems and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. He later served as director, Space and Life Sciences, Johnson Space Center and was responsible for direction and coordination of medical support to operational manned spacecraft programs.

Afer retiring from the Navy, he left NASA and joined Lockheed Martin where he managed the Extravehicular Systems Project, providing hardware for Space Station Freedom. He is credited as one of the inventors of the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER), first tested for use by space walking astronauts on the International Space Station. He then served on the Assured Crew Return Vehicle team, and served as Study Manager on the Human Transportation Study, a NASA review of future space transportation architectures. He joined KRUG Life Sciences in 1997.

As Skylab crew member, he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal in 1973 from the Secretary of the Navy, the Robert J. Collier Trophy, the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy and AIAA's Haley Astronautics Award for 1974. He was one of 24 Apollo astronauts who were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997.

Kerwin married Shirley Ann née Good of Danville, Pennsylvania in 1960. They have three daughters and six grandchildren. He resides in College Station, Texas with his family.

Hometown Hero

Hagerty Family w Jack

The Hagerty Family

For over 70 years, the Hagerty Irish Hour has kept Chicago connected to the Old Country with music, news, sports, and announcements of local concerts and benefits. The Hagerty program is the longest running Irish-oriented radio show in the country. The show was started on April 4th, 1953 by Jack Hagerty, Sr., an Irish step-dancing champion and president of a reinsurance company, who was very active in all aspects of the Irish community. Jack Sr. did the show every Saturday morning until his death in August of 1980.

The Hagerty Irish Hour had its genesis in a Sunday afternoon program started in 1951, with a number of hosts, but led by Jack Hagerty. In 1953, Jack Hagerty sent a letter to the Irish and Irish-American community of Chicago announcing the start of the Saturday morning Irish Hour, saying “This program is yours to criticize or compliment, and we would appreciate hearing from you. We are inviting all clubs, organizations and churches to make use of our facilities in publicizing their activities. I hope you will spend Saturday morning with me.”

Jack kept that promise to the Irish community for 27 years until his death in 1980. He was active in all aspects of the Irish community in Chicago, including announcing the St. Patrick’s Day parade every year from its start until his last parade in 1980. Jack was at the forefront of the creation of the West Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which later moved downtown and has since turned into one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country. Along with his good friend, Tommy Ryan and with the Plumber’s Union on board as the sponsor, Jack made the pitch to Mayor Daley and the rest is history.

Jack’s greatest wish was that his children would help keep the legacy alive – and so the Hagerty Irish Hour continues today, more than 40 years after Jack’s death and more than 70 years after Jack, Sr. wrote that letter. Since 1980, all six of Jack’s children, Denise, Donna, Jack, Ed, Tom and Jim hosted the Saturday morning show at one time or another. Just like it was during Jack Sr.’s decades behind the microphone, The Irish Hour has been a labor of love for the Hagerty family over all these years. Currently Jack, Denise and Ed share the hosting responsibilities, with Irish music, live news from Ireland, interviews with musicians, authors, politicians and most importantly, an open forum for the Irish community to publicize its events and functions providing a voice for the Irish here in Chicago.