Chicagoans remember Maggie Daley at public wake

November 28, 2011 5:27:19 AM PST
Hundreds of mourners joined former mayor Richard Daley and his family at a public wake and visitation for former Chicago first lady Maggie Daley on Sunday.

Mrs. Daley died on Thanksgiving after a nine-year battle with breast cancer. She was 68 years old.

The Daley family arrived at the Chicago Cultural Center for a private mass Sunday morning before the wake for Mrs. Daley began. Richard Daley arrived with his son Patrick, daughter Lally and Lally's new husband. His other daughter Nora, brothers John and Bill Daley and others was also in attendance.

"I first met Maggie was when she was dating Rich, and she's just a very, very special lady," said Ed Howlett, a family friend.

Before Preston Bradley Hall was opened at noon for the public wake, a line of well-wishers stretched around the Cultural Center despite the rainy weather.

"I do not believe in our lifetime that we will see another Maggie Daley for the things that she did for the city and for our young people here in Chicago," said mourner LaDonna Brown-Miller

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule were among those who paid their respects as did former governor Rob Blagojevich and his wife Patti and Gov. Pat Quinn.

"There are no words in any language to relieve the pain of losing your spouse, someone you've been married to for almost 40 years," Quinn said. "What a wonderful partnership, Maggie Daley and Mayor Daley, together made Chicago and Illinois a better place.

Dignitaries like U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin were also at Sunday's wake and mingled with everyday people. He even shared a warm remembrance of Daleys with their grandchildren last St. Patrick's Day.

"Those two, Maggie and Rich, were just beaming with so much happiness and pride. It was a moment I thought about when I heard that Maggie passed away. I thought, 'This is what kept her going.'" Durbin said.

At the wake, a type of white and green orchid adorned Mrs. Daley's closed casket, which was surrounded by other flower bouquets including her favorite tulips.

"I appreciate her not only as a woman but as a person who stood brave and tall and did so much for everyone," said mourner Gloria Cassens.

"She deeply cared about each and every one of us," Kelly Rouser, Gallery 37 alum.

The choir and jazz quartet from the After School Matters program that the late Chicago first lady created alternated gently singing hymns and playing appropriate pieces at the wake as hundreds gathered to pay their respects and celebrate the life and legacy of Maggie Daley.

"I feel the need to be present just because of certain things that she stood for in the After School Matters program, which really had a big impact on me and some friends of mine," said Matthew Hamberic, After School Matters alum.

"There's no one who has done more nationally as an example for children and the arts. Her program, they talk about it around the country, and it was her heart," said Fr. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina's Catholic Church.

Mourner Margaret Cahill-Warzecha, who's father often saw the Daley's at their Grand Beach, Mich. getaway was near one of the first in line.

"She's a sweet, sweet lady. We will miss that smile," Cahill-Warzecha said.

Many cancer survivors attended Mrs. Daley's wake and have been inspired by her nine-year battle with the disease, outliving the odds. "She was a strong person. She let everybody know, it wasn't a hidden mystery of her illness and I think the work she done with the children and all the different organizations and things, that what kept her going," said cancer survivor Johnie Jennings.

The Daley family headed home just before 10 p.m. Sunday, which is when the 10-hour wake for Chicago's former first lady wrapped up.

Mrs. Daley was a long-time supporter and champion of theater in Chicago, so on Sunday, the theater community joined together to honor her. They turned off their marquees for two minutes at 12 p.m. They were lit again, and remained aglow until the wake ended at 10 p.m.

On Monday, a public Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Old St. Patrick's Catholic Church at 700 West Adams. The funeral procession for Maggie Daley will go from the Chicago Cultural Center and City Hall to Old St. Pat's. ABC7 will have live coverage starting at approximately 10 a.m. Monday.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the program Mrs. Daley founded, After School Matters at, or the Maggie Daley Cancer Center at Northerwestern University at

Memorial books are available for those who want to share memories at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., and the cultural center. Memorial books for children touched by her to sign are in place at Gallery 37, 66 E Randolph.

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