In Memory

Mary Rehl (Steele)

29 Jul 1944 - 01 December, 2000 - complications from a progressive disease of the skin.

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07/29/11 08:55 PM #1    

John McNamee


Mary A. (Rehl) Steele                              IN MEMORIAM
PHILADELPHIA, PA. - Mary A. (nee: Rehl) Steele, 56, formerly of Racine, passed away at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. on Friday, December 1, 2000. Mary was born in South Bend, Ind. on July 29, 1944, daughter of John M. 'Jack' and Mary (nee: Miles) Rehl. She was united in marriage to Brian D. Steele on August 13, 1966, at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Racine with Rev. Gerard Clark officiating. Mary and Brian moved to Downingtown, Pa. in 1981. Mary was a graduate of St. Catherine's High School "Class of 1962," attended college of St. Therese in Winona, Minn., and graduated from Marquette University "Class of 1966." For more than 16 years, she was a Customer Service Supervisor for Deluxe Check Corporation. Mary was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother -- her family was her life. Second was the Atlantic Shore -- from Ocean City, Md. to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Surviving are her husband, Brian D. Steele; her daughter and son-in-law, Theresa (Timothy) Butts; her sons and daughter-in-law, John (Emily) Steel and Matthew Steele; her granddaughters, Lauren R. and Megan K. Butts, all of Downingtown, Pa.; her parents, Mary and John M. 'Jack' Rehl of Racine; her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Eldred D. and Frances Steele; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Judy and Caroline Steele, Paul (Debbie), Joel (Heidi), John (Christy), and Pete (Sherry) Steele, all of Arizona. Funeral services will be held in Downingtown, Pa. on Friday, December 8, 2000, at 10 a.m. with Rev. Walter J. Benn officiating. The family has suggested memorials to Scleroderma Foundation, 12 Kent Way, Suite 101, Byfield, Mass. 01922, Anyone wishing to contact the family via mail, the address is: The Steele Family, c/o Theresa Butts, 346 Wright's Lane, Exton, Pa. 19341.      ps, editors note: Brian writes in a recent e-mail that the past year has been a struggle without Mary, but he knows that she is watching over her two granddaughters, Lauren 5, and Megan 3. Mary was able to spend considerable time with Megan after her daughter Theresa had to return to work after Megan’s birth. What more could anyone ask for as a memorial to their life here on earth, than to spend quality time with your grandchildren and be instrumental in their development. 

03/15/12 11:27 PM #2    

John McNamee

Mary Grace Murphy was born in South Bend, Indiana on August 29th, 1944 to George and Mary Katherine Murphy.

Mary's parents were married following George's graduation from Notre Dame University 1943. Following graduation, George enlisted in the Marine Corps (USMC) and went to Basic Training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Mary Katherine lived with George in the officers barracks for married couples. It was there that John (Jack) Rehl befriended George Murphy, Jack was a Notre Dame fan (even though he went to Marquette) so they had similar interests.

George was sent overseas to fight in WWII and unfortunately met his end at the Battle of Okinawa in Japan. Upon hearing news of his death, Mary Katherine was devastated... (Mary was less than a year old at the time). After some time had passed, George's friend Jack called on Mary Katherine and they began to date. They would meet in Chicago, a half way point from South Bend. Eventually Jack & Mary Katherine got married, moved to Racine WI, and Mary was adopted as Mary Grace RehI.

She attended St. Patrick's Grade School (K thru 8) which is where she met Brian Steele. After roller skating at Douglas Park Gym on Friday's after school, Mary and Brian would meet across Douglas Ave. at the Circle Inn for a soda or shake.

After St. Patrick's, Brian went to the Salvatorian Seminary for two and a half years then St. Catherine's & Mary went to St. Catherine's High School. After graduating from St. Cat's, Mary went to St. Theresa College in Winona, MN, an all-girls school, and then transferred to Marquette after sophomore year, graduating with an Education Degree.

Brian and Mary reunited and started to date again on the weekends. On Sunday morning, after he would finish refereeing basketball at the Milwaukee Jewish Center, they would go for lunch somewhere like "BOB'S BIG BOY". On August 13th 1966, they were married. Mary began teaching in Racine Unified the following September.

They had a daughter, Theresa Ann, on 06/06/1967. Two sons followed; John in 05/23/1970 and Mathew in 10/10/1971. Mary taught for one more year, then became a permanent substitute teacher. In 1977, the family moved to Greendale, WI. While living there, Mary worked part time at the Hales Corner K-MART store in customer service. In 1981, Mary, Brian and family moved to Downington, PA. Mary became a full time mother until 1986 when she started another career where Mary became Customer Service Representative for Deluxe Checks.

In August 1993, Mary was asked to speak to the 1943 Notre Dame Graduating Class. Her father, George Murphy, was to posthumously receive the Fr. Wm. Corby Award which most represents "Honor, Loyalty and Notre Dame". She was honored to be able to talk to many classmates of her fathers'... it gave her great insight as to who he was.

In 1995, Deluxe Check Printers closed its doors and Mary was laid off. It happened just as her 2"1 granddaughter, Megan, was born. She took care of Megan the first year, then took another customer service job up until Sept. 2000.

Mary entered the hospital with breathing difficulties on Nov. 1st, 2000. She lost her battle with Scleroderma (an auto-immune disorder) on December 1, 2000.


From: terry( [] Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 9:29 PM

To: Steele, John

Subject: Re: Remembering the Fallen Heroes- George Murphy


Good to hear from you and thank you. I came across your grandfather's story while researching Third Down and a War to Go about the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers. Notre Dame and Wisconsin played to a 7-7 tie that season and both captains (your grandfather and Wisconsin's Dave Schreiner) were killed in the Battle of Okinawa.  The book mainly is about the Wisconsin team, but it includes passages about that game against Notre Dame and your grandfather and his tentmates, plus Chuck Behan. I don't mean this to be a cheesy plug, but I think you would enjoy and appreciate the book. I actually came across more material after the hardback was published, so you would need to be looking for the paperback.

Bus is not doing real well, but he's still alive, and maybe at some point you could contact him. His daughter, Jane Norton, is our former lieutenant governor here in Colorado and is in a candidate now for the U.S. Senate. Anyway, I'll give you a call after the holidays, if that's OK. I have a book due Jan 4, so I'm burning the candle right now.


Terry Frei

----- Original Message---

From: "Steele, John" [SteeleJ@MLHS.ORG]

Date: 12/21/2009 11:22 AM

To: ""

Subject: Re: Remembering the Fallen Heroes- George Murphy


Hi Terry,

I just found the article you wrote, "Remembering the Fallen Heroes". I did a search on George Murphy as I have done many times before but this is the first time your article appeared. George Murphy is my grandfather and the daughter you reference in the article is my mother. The man my mother grew up with believing was her father, I guess didn't like living in the shadow of a Notre Dame war hero so he wasn't spoke of very often. (That is a story in itself) I read in many articles online how he died and some of his game play while at Notre Dame but this is the first I have read about the pick up game on Guadalcanal, it got me choked up. Thank you for remembering and writing about these men. If you have any more stories about my grandfather I would love to hear them and I am sure my family would too. My cell phone number is xxxxxxxxxxx. Thanks again.


John Steele

John Steele

Main LineHealth Laboratories Sales and Service Representative


Updated: November 11, 2004, 12:01 PM ET

Remembering the fallen heroes

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Sy Terry Frei

Special to


It's Veterans Day, but we're arguing over such issues as "disgraces" in the latest BCS Standings, the Heisman Trophy race, and which coaches should be fired.

Every day, we're losing more of the men -- including former football players -- who in World War li helped secure our freedom to be, among many other things, so emotional about the relatively inconsequential.

This is a story about football-playing Marines getting together on a makeshift, coral-strewn parade ground on a Pacific island to play a spirited football game in 1944.

We'll start with a single tent on Guadalcanal, shared by three lieutenants with college football in their past. The were platoon leaders in D Company of the 29th Regiment's 2nd Battalion.


George Murphy, Dave Mears and Bus Bergman were like brothers and they fought together in WWII. Murphy later died in combat.

"Irish" George Murphy had been Notre Dame's 1942 captain. Denver native Walter "Bus" Bergman had won 10 letters as a star halfback, as well as a basketball and baseball player, at Colorado A&M in Fort Collins. Dave Mears had been a rock of a lineman at Boston University. "We built our own shower at the back of the tent with a 55-gallon drum," Mears recalled from his home in Essex, Mass. "We got a shower head someplace, and we were all set. We were living high!"


Murphy showed off pictures to Bergman and Mears of his newborn daughter, born in July 1944. Irish George hadn't yet seen her in person. He dreamed of the day he would.

By late 1944, the three tentmates and all the other Marines knew they were headed for fierce battles in the months ahead. Some already had been in battle before arriving on Guadalcanal, which American forces had retaken in late 1942.

"We didn't know where we were going," Bergman recalled at his home in Grand Junction, Colorado. "But we knew it was going to be close to the (Japanese) mainland. Football and little things kept us away from all that talk."

After several pickup games, and many beer-fueled debates among Marines about which of the Sixth Division's units had the best players, the "Football Classic" was scheduled between the 29th and 4th regiments on Christmas Eve. Organizers mimeographed rosters and lined up a public-address system, radio announcers, regimental bands and volunteer game officials. The field was the 29th's parade ground.

Crowd estimates ranged from 2,500 to 10,000. With no bleachers, Marines -- many of whom had placed wagers on the outcome -- scrambled to stake out vantage points.

Bergman started in the 29th's backfield, with halfback Bud Seelinger, formerly of Wisconsin; fullback Tony Butkovich, the nation's leading rusher in 1943 at Purdue and the Cleveland Rams' No. 1 draft choice in 1944; and quarterback Frank Callen, from St. Mary's of California. Murphy was one end and player-coach Chuck Behan, formerly of the Detroit Lions, was the other.

It was supposed to be "touch" football. The rugged Marines, of course, mostly ignored that restriction.

John McLaughry, a former Brown University star and ex-New York Giant in the 4th Regiment, served as a playing assistant coach. He wrote to his parents the day after the game, saying: "It was really a Lulu, and as rough hitting and hard playing as I've ever seen. As you may guess, our knees and elbows took an awful beating due to the rough field with coral stones here and there, even though the 29th did its best to clean them all up. My dungarees were torn to hell in no time, and by the game's end my knees and elbows were a bloody mess."

The game ended in a scoreless tie, so all bets -- and there were many of them, some involving astounding stakes -- were "pushes." (The brass didn't mind that.) Bergman and the Sixth Division continued training, then left Guadalcanal for Okinawa, about 400 miles south of Japan. Part of a multiservice command operating as a Tenth Army expeditionary force, the Marines went ashore on Easter, April 1, 1945. The landings were unopposed. The Japanese made their stands elsewhere. In the battle for Sugar Loaf Hill, Murphy and Mears both were hit on May 15.

The Tenth Army's official Okinawa combat history later said Murphy first ordered "an assault with fixed bayonets" against Japanese forces.

"The Marines reached the top and immediately became involved in a grenade battle with the enemy," the combat historians wrote. "Their supply of 350 grenades was soon exhausted. Lieutenant Murphy asked his company commander, Capt. Howard L. Mabie, for permission to withdraw, but Captain Mabie ordered him to hold the hill at all costs. By now the whole forward slope of Sugar Loaf was alive with gray eddies of smoke from mortar blasts, and Murphy ordered a withdrawal on his own initiative. Covering the men as they pulled back down the slope, Murphy was killed by a fragment when he paused to help a wounded Marine." A Marine correspondent wrote of Murphy's death at the time. That story was carried in many U.S. newspapers in May. It had Murphy making multiple trips to help carry the wounded to an aid station before he was hit as he rested. It added: "Irish George staggered to his feet, aimed over the hill and emptied his pistol in the direction of the enemy. Then he fell dead."

Said Bergman, "One of the men in his platoon told me he pulled out his pistol and unloaded it." In the battle, 49 of the 60 men in Murphy's platoon were killed or wounded. Also on May 15, Mears' platoon was approaching Sugar Loaf when he felt a flash of pain. "They said it was a machine gun, and it was one bullet through my thigh," Mears said. Mears was flown to Guam the next day, where he heard of Murphy's death.


"Oh, that one was really bad," he said. "He was Just such a terrific guy. That was a real low blow." Mears paused, then added, "But there were so many of them ..."

Suddenly, Bergman was the only tentmate remaining in the battle. "Then all the outfits got hit pretty hard," Bergman said. "Our company went up with others on the 18th and 19th (of May), took the hill, and stayed there. The Japs were beat up pretty good by then, and we got good tank support.

"By that last night on Sugar Loaf, I was the executive officer. I organized a couple of guys to carry ammunition and stuff to different companies up there that night. We took guys down to the first-aid tent, not so many of the wounded, but several who cracked up from the stress of the whole deal." In Bergman's subsequent Bronze Star citation, Maj. Gen. Lemuel Shepherd said the Coloradan "organized carrying parties and supervised the distribution and delivery (of supplies) to all three companies throughout the night. When time permitted, 1st Lieut. Bergman visited the troops on the line, exposing himself to enemy fire, speaking to many, reassuring and encouraging them during the enemy's intense counterattacks."

U.S. forces held the hill.

After the island was declared secure five weeks later, Bergman visited Murphy's grave at the Sixth Marine Division Cemetery.

"It was real tough," Bergman recalled softly. He struggled to say something else, then settled for repeating: "It was real tough."

On that visit, he took a picture of Murphy's white cross and grave.

He still has a tiny print.

Murphy never met his daughter. He was one of 12 players from the Guadalcanal football game killed on Okinawa. The dead included both team captains -- Behan, the ex-Detroit Lion, and former Wisconsin All-American end Dave Schreiner. The other nine killed in action:

Tony Butkovich, the fullback who lined up next to Bergman in the 29th's backfield.

Wisconsin tackle Bob Baumann. Michigan center Bob Fowler, Lehigh tackle John Hebrank. Southern Methodist tackle Hubbard Hinde. Marquette halfback Rusty Johnston. Wake Forest and Duke halfback Johnny Perry. Amherst end Jim Quinn. Cornell tackle Ed Van Order.

They were "only" a dozen among 2,938 Marines killed or missing in action on Okinawa. U.S. Army dead and missing numbered 4,675.

After the war, Mears returned to Massachusetts and became a CPA. At age 83, he still cuts firewood at his home and loves to ski in New Hampshire. "The last few years, I've gotten a season pass," he said.

Bergman returned to Colorado A&M (now Colorado State) and earned his master's degree. He went into coaching at Fort Lewis College in Durango, then moved to Mesa College in Grand Junction in 1950. He coached the Mesa football and baseball teams, and the baseball team three times was the runner-up in the national junior college tournament. He retired from coaching in 1974, and from the faculty in 1980, and was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He and his wife, Elinor, split their year between Grand Junction and the Phoenix area, and they stay in touch with their three children, including Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.

Last spring, Bergman traveled to Washington D.C. for the dedication of the National World War II memorial. "It was real nice," Bergman said. "I was real impressed with it. They had different stones for campaigns like Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guadalcanal. You could get your picture there, and it was real emotional."

Bergman was thinking about his Marine buddies, including those who also played football. He still thinks about those who survived the war and about those who didn't.

And so should we. Terry Frei is a regular contributor to ESPN. corn. He is the author of "Third Down and a War to Go" and "Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming."

John Steele



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