Photo courtesy LIFE magazine

FRANK McHALE

FOOTBALL PLAYER - LAWYER - PHILANTROPIST

Frank McHale was born July 22, 1889 to Martin and Margaret Farrell McHale. Martin had arrived in this country from Ireland just a few years before Frank's birth. He had just one sister, Kathryn, whom he idolized all his life. He eventually left a wonderful memorial to her in the McHale Room at McHale Auditorium.

Frank attended St. Joseph Catholic School and Logansport High School where he played football and actually coached part of the time. After high school he entered Michigan State University to study law. He played on the Michigan State football team as tackle. He was named All American in 1914 and after graduation he played Professional Football for Detroit. He then finished his legal training and received his J. D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence) Degree in 1916.

After receiving his J. D. degree Frank returned to Logansport. Since football was still his great love, he played with the Wabash pro team. The First World War was warming up and Frank enlisted in the Air Corps and served as Adjutant at Kelly Field in Texas. He played football with the Air Force and his team was undefeated and declared the champs of the southwestern area.

After the War, Frank was offered the coaching job at the University of Kentucky. Frank's father gave him a very stern lecture and said, "Make up your mind whether you want to be a muscle man or a lawyer." Frank decided on the spot that he would be a lawyer and returned to Logansport and created the law firm of Kistler, Kistler, and McHale.

Frank threw himself into the fabric of Logansport and was soon involved in many activities. He was instrumental in organizing the Cass County Post of the American Legion and was Commander 1919-20-21. He was elected President of the Bar Association in 1929 and continued in that office until 1933 when left Logansport for Indianapolis. When the First National Bank of Logansport was having great financial difficulties, Frank McHale's diligence enabled him to convince the Comptroller of the Treasury that the bank could be restructured and that the people of Logansport would not lose any of their money. He literally saved the homes, farms and businesses of many families through his diligent and intelligent manipulations. He was also able to convince a number of people in Logansport to invest their money in a new bank even though the Depression was really setting in throughout the country.

Frank McHale left Logansport in 1933 and through time created the law firm of Cook, Welch, and McHale. David Cook joined Frank in 1939 and William Welch joined the firm in 1948. All three of the men were Logansport products and continued together for many years. Frank was elected Chairman of the Board, director, and member of the board of the Nickel Plate Railroad from 1941 to 1964.

Politically Frank was committed to the Democratic Party. He was a national committeeman from 1932 until 1953. He is credited with writing the Public Service Commission Act of 1933 and the Gross Income Act. He also wrote the Alcohol Beverage Act and the Utilities Tax Act for the State of Indiana. Frank was also credited with creating the 2% Club that became a big part of both political parties' fund raising. Frank McHale was a fierce antagonist of the Ku Klux Klan and worked tirelessly to put them out of business and to prevent them from running for office.

Frank McHale was elected a director of the United States Freight Corporation of New York, the largest freight company in America. He was director of Universal Broadcasting Company that was later WISH-TV. He kept his finger in Logansport by being a director of the Pharos Tribune for most of his working life. He was a Past Exalted Ruler of the Elks, member of Council 561 Knights of Columbus, the Antelope Club and the Athletic Clubs of Indianapolis, and the Highland Golf and Country Club.

Frank McHale's greatest love was the Catholic Church. He sent five boys each year to the seminary to become priests. He believed that travel was a necessary part of education and sent the boys abroad to learn about the world. They, of course, were expected to visit Rome and the Vatican while they were traveling. St. Meinrad Seminary was in great need of renovation and expansion. Frank McHale was instrumental in raising over $1,000,000 for that project. He also served on the Board of Directors of St. Joseph College and assisted in several fund drives. Pope John honored Frank McHale with a designation of a Knight of St. Gregory for his important work in the church in training young men for the priesthood.

The Logansport Country Club was the scene of a great celebration in 1961 to honor Frank McHale. Dignitaries came from all over the United States for the testimonial dinner. Frank will be best remembered in Logansport for his contribution of $200,000 for architectural work, $1,000,000 for the construction of McHale Auditorium, and the $2,000,000 endowment for its continued upkeep.

As one of the final tributes to Frank McHale, he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in Richmond, Indiana, on January 18, 1975.

Frank McHale died January 27, 1975 while on vacation at Miami Beach, Florida.

The auditorium was re-named McHale Performing Arts Center in January 2002 by action of the Logansport School Board of Trustees with the approval of Mr. McHale's former law partner William Welch.

Richard Copeland