Dignitaries, Chicagoans mourn Maggie Daley

Maggie Daley photo poster at funeral (ABC7's Ben Bradley)

November 28, 2011 8:38:26 PM PST
Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley held the hands of his daughters as his wife's casket arrived at Old St. Patrick's Catholic Church Monday for her funeral. Maggie Daley died Thursday at age 68 after a nine-year battle with breast cancer.

The church was full of family, friends and dignitaries including First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. A longtime mayoral staffer who knew Maggie Daley well said Chicago's former first lady "would like this, seeing all the faces of Chicago here" at her funeral Mass.

Maggie Daley's casket was carried from the Chicago Cultural Center, past Chicago City Hall and into Old St. Pat's Church on the city's Near West Side. Pallbearers for the funeral were son Patrick Daley, son-in-law Sean Conroy, son-in-law Sam Hotchkiss, Michael Daley, brother-in-law and White House Chief of Staff William Daley, John Daley, Francis Corbett, James Corbett and Joseph Corbett. The readings at the funeral were done by daughters Nora Daley Conroy and Lally Daley Hotchkiss. Former Mayor Daley did not speak.

Son Patrick Daley eulogized his mother. He was flanked by his two sisters.

"In our everyday life and as a woman who has achieved great things, our mother had a yearning for adventure, traveling abroad, inspiring her friends and family to do the same," he said. "She was always encouraging us to explore new cultures and experiences in order to expand our horizons."

"Mom always lived in the present, enjoying life, laughter and the occasional piece of dark chocolate," Patrick Daley said. "She was the first one out and the last one off the dance floor.

"To us, she was a grandmother, aunt, sister, wife, and mother. We are so proud of our mother. She lived such a positive life, impacting so many. For such an accomplished woman with so many professional and personal commitments, she always had time to simply be our mother," he said.

He concluded with a mention of his toddler brother's death decades earlier.

"Mom, we thank you. We love you. We miss you. Hold Kevin close until we see you again."

Monday's service was presided over by Francis Cardinal George and by Old St. Pat's pastor emeritus Fr. Jack Wall. Huge bouquets of hydrangeas added beauty to an already elegant church.

The church was filled to capacity by 10:20 a.m. Several people stood outside to listen to the service on loudspeakers. Attendees included U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and many from Chicago's theater community, including the Steppenwolf Theater. Many members of the mayor's former administration were also in attendance.

"I think about the mayor, I think about Bill, the whole family and what they're going through right now," said Sen. Kirk. "You just never saw her without a smile on her face, and as I said, Rich may have had his friends and enemies, but Maggie was all friends."

"Maggie was a hero of mine, she was an amazing partner," said Duncan.

"Mayor Daley has lost an awful lot but because it was nine years, he had in some sense time to watch the setting of the sun. He has a lot left and for that he can be grateful," said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

After the service, other officials remembered Mrs. Daley's good works and how she brought Chicagoans together.

"I think she established her legacy by putting in place Francis Warde [school] as well as After School Matters," said Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General.

"The kids who have been touched by her, the adults who have been touched by her, think about the artists she nurtured. So I think all of that came together to make it such a wonderfully diverse crowd," said Avis Lavelle, former Daley press secretary.

As Maggie Daley's casket passed Chicago City Hall, many city workers came outside. Bystanders, many of whom never met her, stood in silence, paying their respects to the woman who was Chicago's first lady for 22 years.

"She always had a smile on her face," Warren Farriley said.

"Our kids, our future -- she created a real good stepping stone for that. My sympathies go out to her whole family. I guess we are all in mourning right now," Alice Dolan said.

"[She] was supportive in a very quiet, laid-back, behind-the- scenes way. She made major contributions to the city of Chicago," Virginia Martinez said.

Mrs. Daley was buried alongside her son Kevin as well Richard J. Daley and Eleanor "Sis" Daley in the family plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

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

Public wake held at cultural center

The Daley family has always been in the public spotlight, and they expected that reality even in their time of grief. They posed Sunday for a photo in front of the closed casket of their beloved Maggie. Her visitation at the Chicago Cultural Center drew many people. Everyday Chicagoans were there, along with family friends and politicians.

"It is very much a celebration of her life. The ceremony is very upbeat, and you know, I think the family is well served by the presentation that they have," said family friend Robert Abboud.

Maggie's love of the arts was represented Sunday by the choirs and musicians from the After School Matters program she created. Many of the mourners were graduates.

"There is nobody that has done more nationally as an example for children and for the arts. I mean, her program, they talk about it every place you go around the country, and it was her heart," said Father Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Catholic Church.

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