CHICAGO — January 5, 2023 marks a major milestone in the life of the matriarch of the Chicago Bears franchise.

Virginia Halas McCaskey turns 100 years old on Thursday, and many around the Chicago Bears franchise are taking some time to celebrate.

“She’s the guiding force behind everything we do here, and everybody knows that, including the guys in the locker room,” said Bears chairman and Virginia’s son George McCaskey in a statement that was posted on a Twitter tribute to the owner Thursday morning.

The daughter of Bears founder George S. Halas and Minnie Bushing Halas on January 5, 1923, Virginia has been around the Bears her entire life. After attending Drexel University, she married Ed McCaskey in 1943, and the couple had 11 children as the family continued to play a big part in the franchise.

After he father’s death in 1983, she became the principal owner of the team with her late husband Ed McCaskey serving as chairman. Ed and Virginia’s son Michael, who had served as team president, took over that position in 1999 and held it through 2011.

During her tenure, the Bears have had their fair share of ups and downs, including winning the NFC Championship in the 1985 and 2006 seasons along with Super Bowl XX. Since 1983, the team has made the playoffs 14 times.

Virginia McCaskey has been a constant presence around the team throughout the years and attends almost every contest, either home or away. She continues to meet with coaches and players, including head coach Matt Ebeflus, who was asked about the owner during his news conference on Wednesday.

“Very impactful,” said Eberflus on the impact that McCaskey has on the team. “Her first conversation together that we had was over the phone and he last comment was, ‘Matt, you know, I’ll be your biggest fan,’ that’s what she said to me. Then just me talking to her at the gala and some different events when she’s here. She had lunch with (Eberflus’ wife) Kelly one day, which is great. I got a chance to speak to her then.

“Just always encouraging, always upbeat, always thoughtful, and it’s been a joy to get to know her over this last year.”

WGN News sports anchor Jarrett Payton, who has known McCaskey dating back to when his father, Walter, played for the team, joined WGN News Now’s Larry Hawley to discuss his thoughts on the owner’s 100th birthday this week.