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Cook County Board Honors Maggie Daley

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Maggie Daley discusses her breast cancer diagnosis in 2002. (Credit: CBS)

Maggie Daley discusses her breast cancer diagnosis in 2002. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County commissioners began their board meeting Wednesday with a tribute to the late Maggie Daley.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports the board adopted a resolution in memory of the former first lady of Chicago and, one by one, board members offered fond remembrances of Mrs. Daley.

Commissioner John Daley (D-11th), Maggie’s brother-in-law, praised her many accomplishments, quoting from Dr. Seuss.

“Let us not cry because it’s over, but let us smile because it happened. She brought a smile to everyone,” he said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle talked about former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s annual Christmas card, featuring a photo of Richard and Maggie with their family.

“If you looked at the configuration of the family in the Christmas card, it was always Maggie who was at the center, not the mayor,” said Preckwinkle, who was a Chicago alderman for most of Daley’s time as mayor.

Commissioner William Beavers (D-4th), also a longtime alderman during Daley’s tenure and a noted clothes horse, praised Maggie Daley for improving her husband’s wardrobe.

“She made the mayor look good. I mean she changed him from J.C. Penney to Marshall Field’s,” Beavers said.

Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski (D-16th) said, “She was an inspiration. She was the beautiful face of the great city of Chicago.”

Commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler (D-3rd) said, “Anyone knowing that they are soon going to make a transition and yet walk with the spirit that she walked with up until the very end is a very special person. They say that the eyes are the mirror to the soul. She had a beautiful soul.”

Once each commissioner spoke in honor of Mrs. Daley, they all stood in tribute to the former first lady.

“She truly would be embarrassed,” John Daley said after the tribute to his sister-in-law. “She always talked about other people with illnesses and I think that’s what she’d be thinking about today, ‘Talk about the other people who are suffering and think of the families who are suffering today and I’m thinking of them.’”

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, the tribute to Maggie Daley also triggered renewed questions about how to permanently honor her memory.

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked about it at a separate event, it seemed clear nothing had been decided.

“Whatever I do, I’ll do in consultation with the family and I’ve been in discussions with them,” the mayor said.

One thing Emanuel probably won’t do is name a building in her honor. The Chicago Cultural Center repeatedly has been mentioned as a building that could someday bear Maggie’s name, because of her involvement in fundraising for the Cultural Center.

But it was the Daley family matriarch, Eleanor “Sis” Daley who saved the building from the wrecking ball when her husband, Richard J. Daley, was mayor.

John Daley, one of her sons, said Maggie “was the first one to always say that too; that my mom saved it, but (Maggie) helped preserve it and expand it in a different way.”

Indications from the Mayor’s office are that the late former first lady’s name will not end up on a building, but on a living, breathing, continuing program dealing with the arts or education, things which she remained dedicated to as she waged her long and courageous battle with cancer.

Maggie Daley founded the After School Matters program for Chicago youth, which provides activities in arts, science, technology and other areas to prepare children for careers in adulthood.

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