Maggie Daley touched everyday Chicagoans

November 28, 2011 3:58:05 PM PST
From her work with Chicago school children to her 9-year battle with cancer, Maggie Daley touched thousands of lives.

Chicago's former first lady was buried Monday. She died last Thursday at the age of 68.

Across the city, Chicagoans who never met Margaret Corbett Daley signed condolence books at city buildings and paused for a moment of silence as her casket was carried from the Chicago Cultural Center, past Chicago City Hall and on to St. Pat's Church.

"I'm just hoping that her family finds some support and comfort soon knowing that she is at perfect peace," Alice Dolan said.

Maggie Daley served alongside her husband, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, for 22 years with her warm, wide smile.

"She always had a smile on her face even with the cancer, I thought it was over with the way she carried herself," Kimberly Allen said.

"My sympathies go out to her whole family. I guess we are all in mourning right now," Jose A. Trevino said.

The Daley family escorted the casket from the Chicago Cultural Center, where a wake was held. Maggie helped to restore the landmark.

The building is one of many marks Maggie Daley leaves to her adopted city.

"The cleanliness, the flowers, and of course the art scene, the theatre scene. She's responsible for all that. It wouldn't have happened had she not been the first lady," Jim Maremont said.

"She cared about children. She cared about schools and that is something to me that will always be tied to her. Tied to her name. And something that is a major contribution to this city," Virginia Martinez said.

"A very gifted woman who really cared a lot about the people of Chicago without being in front of the cameras all the time. We're really going to really, really miss her very much," Warren Fairley said.

As the funeral procession passed City Hall, the bustling city sidewalks slowed, workers held Chicago flags, and passersby stopped - if only briefly - to appreciate Maggie Daley's work and legacy.

Once arriving at Old St. Patrick's Church on the Near West Side, bagpipers played as the casket was brought inside. Former Mayor Daley stood with his hand over his heart as the hearse pulled up to the church.

During the mass, the Reverend John Wall said Maggie Daley was the best present Pittsburgh ever gave Chicago. "Pittsburgh is kind of a sports town like Chicago and so they immediately start racking their brains for which football hero or which coach came from Pittsburgh. And I say Maggie Corbett Daley. It truly is the greatest gift, the best gift that Pittsburgh ever gave to this city," Rev. Wall said.

Maggie Daley spent her years as Chicago's first lady championing many causes, including the non-profit organization she founded -- After Schools Matters -- and where she was treated during her 9 year battle with cancer -- Northwestern's Maggie Daley Cancer Center.

LaShera Moore and Mary Kroeck are alumni of After School Matters.

"We were so grateful to have known her. If it hadn't been for the program, who knows where we would have been today," Moore said.

"When she walked through the halls, you knew she was there and it was so touching that someone in her position would come and be a reminder to all of us of something that we could aspire to be," Kroeck said.

Maggie Daley also helped to start Francis Xavier Warde School, which Father Michael Pfleger ran.

"Nobody even knew she was coming. They'd tell me, you know Maggie Daley was at the gym building, stopped by to talk to the kids. She was a legitimate, genuine person," Rev. Pfleger said.

"She also conveyed the genuineness of the woman next door, and I think that made everyone identify with her," Mary Kay Letz said.

"When I was right of college she invited me to go the Christmas Carol and kept telling me I wasn't singing loud enough. I just remember feeling so loved by her," Melody Hobson said.

Kathleen Sullivan sang at Monday's funeral mass.

"I really was so honored. I feel like I'm going to start crying right now. It was quite an honor," Sullivan said.

Many Chicagoans who never met Mrs. Daley stood outside Old St. Pat's while the funeral continued.

"She did so much for the city. It really doesn't matter what political affiliation she's with. We really should all come together," John Garcia said.

Daleys ask for donations in Maggie's memory

In lieu of flowers in Maggie Daley's memory, her family is asking for donations to either After School Matters ( or Northwestern University's Maggie Daley Cancer Center (

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