Maggie Daley, Wife Of Former Mayor, Dies

Updated 11/25/11 – 11:09 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Maggie Daley, the beloved former First Lady of Chicago and wife of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, has died. She was 68.

Mrs. Daley, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, died Thursday night around 7 p.m. at home. Her husband and her three children were by her side.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, she had been alert for most of Thanksgiving Day and she passed peacefully in the early evening.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement on Thursday night, saying, in part: “Tonight we grieve for the Daley family. Chicago has lost a warm and gracious First Lady who contributed immeasurably to our city. While Mayor Daley served as the head of this city, Maggie was its heart.”

The family announced on Friday that a public visitation will be Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center. The funeral Mass will be on Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Old St. Pat’s church.

“Much of the beauty of this city is due to her,” said political analyst Thom Serafin. “She grew larger than life. She seemed to be the hovering craft over all of us.”

Members of the Daley family were seen going in and out of the family’s home on Thursday night, but the former mayor remained secluded.

The Daley family issued a statement through spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard, saying, “The mayor and his family would like to thank the people of Chicago for the many kindnesses they’ve shown Mrs. Daley over the years, and they appreciate your prayers during this time.”

She was a fighter, a woman whose embrace of the city she loved will live as her legacy.

Word of Maggie Daley’s death spread quickly among people out with friends and family in Chicago over Thanksgiving.

Bishop Walter Armstrong was eating with a crowd of other customers at the White Palace Grill when they heard the sad news.

“Shocked, surprised; but, then, I kind of had anticipated it, since he had cancelled all of his appointments and they had moved up the wedding,” Armstrong said. “So, I kind of figured that she was in a much worse position than they were really saying.”

Chicagoan Michael Hildner said, “The Daley family really kind of lived, I feel like, with the city of Chicago. They shared themselves.”

Mrs. Daley immersed herself in the mission of improving her city and helping those around her.

Supporters said they’ll remember her determination to push through her pain.

“So in the midst of our suffering, we still have to keep on working,” Armstrong said.

Maggie Daley was the driving force behind the group “After School Matters” – an arts, sports and technology program for students.

The organization said in a statement that “Chicago’s teens have lost their strongest voice and champion.”

Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement, “The State of Illinois lost a great treasure. Maggie Daley was a woman for all seasons who treated Chicago residents like family and served up hope and inspiration wherever she went. … Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Daley family. The people of Chicago and Illinois now mourn a great loss, but we remember the legacy of grace and compassion that Maggie left.”

The former Maggie Corbett, grew up in Pittsburgh. She was a popular student and high school basketball player. At the University of Dayton, she was farewell queen.

MAGGIE DALEY OBIT: Chicago’s Beloved First Lady

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Looks At The Life Of Maggie Daley

On March 25, 1972, she married Richard M Daley, right after he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. She was with him every step of the way as he rose to the mayor’s office–ultimately becoming the city’s longest serving chief executive. Mr. Daley, who would often get emotional when talking about his wife, once called her the family’s greatest campaigner.

It was the 2002 diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer that would really test her resolve.

Her first public appearance after that news set the tone.

“I feel good and I am so grateful, really beyond words, for the good wishes and the kindnesses, and the concern and especially the prayers,” she said. “They mean an awful lot. And, I’m just enormously grateful.”

So began a battle with the odds stacked against her; beating those odds year after year, to the delight of her doctors.

Through it all, Maggie Daley remained a proud partner for the mayor and a devoted mother to her children, Nora, Patrick and Lally.

There was suspicion that things weren’t going well for Mrs. Daley when Elizabeth “Lally” Daley moved up her wedding plans from New Year’s Eve to her birthday last Thursday, due to concerns about her mother’s health. Lally married her fiancé Sam Hotchkiss last week so that her mother could attend and fully enjoy the wedding.

Mr. and Mrs. Daley both walked Lally down the aisle, as she wore her mother’s wedding dress.

Then, on Wednesday the former mayor announced that he was canceling all public appearances for the rest of the year, including a one week engagement as visiting fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Although the Daley family said the wedding date was changed because they wanted celebrate at a time Maggie was well enough to enjoy it, a source close to the family said Wednesday that Mr. Daley’s decision to cancel his travel plans was “indicative of Maggie’s condition.”

During her nearly decade-long treatment, she maintained a significant public schedule as Chicago’s First Lady.

She was co-founder of Gallery 37, later renamed After School Matters, which educates and employs young people in the arts and a variety of other out-of-school activities.

She is survived by her husband and three children. Her 33-month-old son, Kevin, died of complications related to spina bifida in 1981.

  • John

    I am so very sorry to hear about Mrs. Daley passing away. She was a wonderful
    lady, and a real trouper! God Bless her.

  • Randy Raven

    God Bless Maggie Daley, may she rest in peace.
    Comfort to her husband and family.
    Her heart was huge!

  • Charles

    First off my condolences to her family and friends. I just want to share my experience with her. I was in a Gallery 37 program in High School in the summer of 1996. I had the chance to meet her twice. What stuck out was the second time I meet her she remember who I was, and that she took the time out to talk with our group, since the second time was at, a big end of the year event at the Cultural Center. Both times is was a pleasant experience. She will be missed for all the work she has done, may it continue on.

  • Gaelyn Thomas-Stewart

    My condolences go out to the Daley Family. May Maggie rest in Peace.I pray that God covers this famly in their time of mourning. May their Faith get them through this rough time.

  • dimple snyder

    my condolences to the family god bless . are thougths nad prayers are with you

  • martha walton

    may the peace and love of god be with you all

  • barbara szady

    i cried when i heard that this beautiful woman has left us in body but she will b forever in the hearts who knew her maybe not personally but for all that she did for the children of chicago and for bringing her knowledge of breast cancer to the forfront.may god keep her close to his heart.

  • Stephen Crane

    I am upset to know that maggie dailey had passed. She was an inspiration to us all and got me to go back to school. you are never to old to go to school.
    Mr. Richard ,Former Mayor you and your family are in my prayers

  • Judy Tankoos

    My heart goes out to all of the friends, family, and loved ones of Maggie Daley. She fought such a brave battle with such grace and aplomb. What a classy lady. Even though I no longer live in the Chicago area, I have been keeping an eye on the Chicago news, more so as I’ve seen news of her declining health. God bless you, Maggie, may you finally rest in peace, healthy and pain-free once again. You will be missed by many.

  • Dan Rakow

    i like to send My heartfelt prayers and thoughts to Richard M. and their 3 Children as they go through this very difficult time period.Even though I never gave up on Maggie Daley However I pray that they keep her Name and Memory alive.

  • foxyrainy


  • Michael Murphy

    The real reason that the Mayor did not run for re election was his wife’s ill health.

  • Roberta Waker

    Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Daley family on the loss of their beloved, Maggie. Our prayers are with you. She is finally at peace and will be remembered for all she did. RIP dear lady.

  • Dylan

    Just lost my mom a few months ago. I can relate. Things get better, but it takes time. She will be missed. Our prayers are with them.

  • Larry Horse's Arse Horse's Arse

    One need not have known Maggie Daley to have been captivated by her smile and inspired by the way she so bravely faced her disease, especially going out into public just one week ago for her daughter’s wedding. She was truly an amazing woman and a paragon whose smile will be missed. Sympathy to the family and friends.

  • Jim Hamilton

    You blind puppets she was nothing but one of Richy’s tools to Rob, Torture and impose his own comunist views on the American people

    • Alan

      perhaps you should learn how to spell before writing such nasty and inappropriate comments on this website. I don’t think anyone would take you seriously here.

      Maggie Daley is the epitome of grace, love, and kindness for the city of Chicago. She will be sorely missed. My prayers and condolences to the Daley family during this difficult time.

  • Laurie

    No one deserves to battle this horrible disease, and she did so with grace and dignity in the public eye. However, hold the halo…she was either a fool, or totally complicit in her husband’s dirty dealings. She is no saint.

  • Alan

    maybe then she’s a fool. Cause there are no saints in this world. And if there were, even saints would be sinners. No one is perfect.

    Only God is pure and sinless.

  • Malcom

    If she had any integrity she would have stopped her husband from being so corrupt. Year after year she KNEW how terrible he was. So sorry she passed on but come on she was guilty of knwing her husband’s crime. She wasn’t no sait. The path to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • Top White House Officials Expected At Maggie Daley’s Funeral « CBS Chicago

    […] CBS 2 that he and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be at Monday services for Mrs. Daley, who died on Thanksgiving after a nine-year battle with breast cancer. LaHood said Bill Daley, the president’s chief of staff, will be there; Daley is the late Mrs. […]

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