Since he first took the field as a 180-pound offensive lineman for the St. Ambrose football squad, Leo Kilfoy '51, PhD, has lived through nearly half of the school's rich athletic history.
He has made some history, too.
Kilfoy blocked alongside future NFL lineman Art Michalik '51 for four seasons, as their Bees teams compiled a 32-7 overall record under the direction of the legendary coach Paul "Moon" Mullins. That included a perfect season in 1949.
After a few years away as a high school gym teacher, Kilfoy returned to his alma mater in 1954 and spent the next 48 years as the jack-of-all-trades foundation of SAU athletics.
By the time he retired in 2002, the man who answered most frequently to "Coach" had held the titles of athletic director, director of recreation and intramurals (for 48 years) and chairman of the Physical Education Department (for 23 years). He was a head coach in football, basketball, tennis and track, and an assistant coach in each of those sports as well. He also carried a full teaching load much of his career, and said he couldn't have done nearly as much without the patient support of Shirley, his wife of 56 years.
Kilfoy has slowed only a little in retirement. He ushers at 5 p.m. mass every Saturday, walks the 2-mile Quad-City Times Bix 7 short course each July, and, this past June, biked 10 miles on the QC riverfront, continuing a Father's Day tradition with his family.
He remains an avid supporter of Fighting Bees athletics and annually serves as an SAU ambassador at alumni golf events in the Quad Cities and Chicago.
"My best memories are without a doubt the friendships I developed with all of my Ambrose people," he said. "The guys I lived with. The guys I coached. The people I taught. They are all good, good people."