Pat Brickhouse, who fought to preserve legacy of her husband, legendary Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, dies
“She just adored Jack and loved their connection to the Cubs and was very protective of his legacy,” recalled former Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker.
Pat Brickhouse thoroughly enjoyed being the life of the party.
And she had many opportunities to showcase her big personality.
She ran a public relations firm that promoted Chicago bars and restaurants. And she was married to the late Chicago legend Jack Brickhouse, who announced Cubs games for decades before the microphone was handed to Harry Caray.
Mrs. Brickhouse died Monday in Scottsdale, Arizona, from natural causes, according to the family. She was 91.
“She was a pistol, and I mean that in the best sense. She loved to party,” said friend and former Sun-Times entertainment columnist Bill Zwecker.
“She drove around in one of those big old monster Cadillacs. And she just adored Jack and loved their connection to the Cubs and was very protective of his legacy,” Zwecker said.
“There were times when she felt her husband’s memory was being passed over due to the outsized fame of his successor and friend, Harry Caray,” said David Fletcher, the founder of an online museum dedicated to Chicago baseball and close friend of Pat Brickhouse.
“Pat was thrilled when the Cubs invited her to throw out the first pitch on Jack Brickhouse bobblehead day in 2014, and later when they named a tavern after her husband just outside the ballpark,” Fletcher said.
The unveiling of a statue of her husband along Michigan Avenue in 2000 was also a special moment for her, and one she worked tirelessly to make happen, friends said.
The couple married in 1980. Each had been married previously.
“They were sort of made for each other,” said Bruce DuMont, a friend and former head of Museum of Broadcast Communications. “They were kindred spirits that liked parties and getting out on the social circuit.”
The couple was good friends with late Sun-Times entertainment columnist Irv Kupcinet and his wife, Essee.
Harry Caray’s widow, Dutchie Caray, said the two legendary broadcasters were good friends.
“We were out in Palm Springs and they challenged Harry and I to a tennis match. I hate to say this, but we won,” she said.
Brian Bernardoni, a lobbyist who lives in Chicago, said he befriended Mrs. Brickhouse 20 years ago after explaining how her husband’s broadcasts basically served as his babysitter when he was a kid living on the Southwest Side.
“I thanked her because her husband and the Cubs kept me out of trouble. I was a latchkey kid,” said Bernardoni, 53.
“It touched her. We became drinking pals. She gave a toast at my wedding,” he said.
“She was vivacious. I don’t think there was a steak joint downtown that didn’t know her when she walked in. She couldn’t have been more than 98 pounds but she just had a strut,” Bernardoni said.
She was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in music education before starting a career as a publicist.
Mrs. Brickhouse, a fashionista, lived in a condo along Lake Shore Drive, just a few blocks east of Wrigley Field, before moving to Arizona about seven years ago, friends said.
She is survived by three children from her first marriage, Stephen, Sharon and Douglas Ettelson, as well as five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“She met three U.S. presidents and a pope,” her son Douglas Ettelson said. “She did like to party and meet people and have a good time. That song ‘Brick House’ by the Commodores tickled her.”
Family asks anyone who wishes to share thoughts or photos or light a virtual candle to visit www.sinaimortuary.net.
Services have been held.