Chicagoans Pay Respects To Former First Lady Maggie Daley
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Updated 11/28/11 – 10:21 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago will say its final farewell to beloved former first lady Maggie Daley at her funeral on Monday.
The public funeral is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Old St. Pat’s Catholic Church, 700 West Adams.
At 10 a.m., pallbearers took Maggie Daley’s casket from the Chicago Cultural Center to a waiting hearse to take it to the church. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his children and grandchildren followed behind the hearse, each carrying a single flower. The former mayor’s brother, Bill Daley, and other family members, were also at the Cultural Center to join the funeral procession.
The procession paused outside City Hall on its way to the church.
Hundreds of people were lined outside both the Cultural Center and City Hall to watch the procession.
Students from The Frances Xavier Warde School – a school associated with Old St. Pat’s that Maggie Daley helped to found – stood outside the church Monday morning to pay their respects as the casket arrived for the funeral.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, have arrived in Chicago to attend the funeral, according to the White House.
Mrs. Daley died on Thanksgiving after a nine year battle with metastatic breast cancer.
A steady stream of people turned out Sunday for the wake.
The public visitation began at noon Sunday at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., and lasted until 10 p.m.
Her husband, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and his family stood by Mrs. Daley’s closed casket to greet mourners. Hundreds of people, standing two or three wide, formed a line around the building to get inside early on, although the crowd had thinned out by mid-afternoon.
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Chicagoan Patrick J. Daly, a former Board of Education employee and city precinct worker, said he felt he had to be at the wake because of the work Mrs. Daley did with After School Matters, Gallery 37 and other organizations and charities.
“Oh my God, the woman was a saint the way she helped all those kids,” he said. “I didn’t know all that until, unfortunately, she passed away.”
Sam Sianis, owner of Chicago’s historic Billy Goat Tavern, said, “It was very important for me to be here for Mrs. Daley because I know her for over 20 years and her husband and her were very good friends.”
“She was the best,” Sianis added.
Dignitaries in attendance included Daley’s brothers — Cook County Commissioner John Daley and White House chief of staff Bill Daley — along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who waited in the rain with regular Chicagoans.
“She was a terrific mom and wife, a great first lady and just a wonderful person,” Durbin said. “I’m just inspired as her nine-years of struggle with cancer — a lesson for all of us,” Durbin said. “It is a loss to Chicago and Illinois. She was terrific.”
Anyone attending the wake won’t have to look far to see Mrs. Daley’s contributions to the city.
The Cultural Center, once the city’s main library, was renovated in no small part due to her fundraising.
“It’s fitting that her wake is inside this building,” said Bob Erlenbaugh, whose son-in-law, Robert Vanecko, is a nephew of Richard and Maggie Daley. “And the parkway, the medians, that beautiful park across Michigan Avenue – I don’t think we would have had any of that without Maggie. So that’s pretty cool.”
Erlenbaugh said he’s known the Daleys for 20 years and Maggie “treated us like part of the family from the beginning.”
“She’s elegant and just a terrific, terrific lady. We love her,” he said.
Erlenbaugh recalled taking vacations with the Daley family at their home in Grand Beach, Mich., and sitting by the pool and talking to Maggie about their respective grandchildren.
“We would relate to her the fun we had with ours and she had a terrific, terrific relationship with her grandkids. We loved them,” Erlenbaugh said.
The Cultural Center is also located across the street from the home of After School Matters, the organization Maggie Daley founded in 1991 to help students pursue creative interests.
Maggie Daley, 68, was Chicago’s first lady for 22 years while her husband, Richard M. Daley, was mayor. She battled breast cancer for nearly a decade before she died on Thanksgiving Day at home, surrounded by her family.
Chicago’s theaters turned off their marquee lights for two minutes at noon to mark the beginning of the wake.
The Daley family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to one of the following: After School Matters, the cultural education program synonymous with Maggie Daley; or the Maggie Daley Center for Women’s Cancer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Prentice Women’s Hospital.