CHICAGO (CBS) — It was on Thanksgiving Day one year ago that Chicago’s former first lady, Maggie Daley, passed away following a long battle with cancer.
Her husband, former Mayor Richard M. Daley has largely avoided the spotlight in the past year, but he recently opened up about life as a private citizen, from going grocery shopping to dating again.
Daley sat down for a personal conversation with CBS 2’s Jim Williams, who once served as Daley’s press secretary.
In former Daley’s corner law office, he keeps plenty of photos of his family, and memorabilia from his long career as mayor on the wall.
Answering the question lots of Chicagoans have been asking since he left office – how’s Mayor Daley doing? – the former mayor said, “I’m doing well. You know, I had a great opportunity to serve the people of Chicago for 22 years.”
But private life is different than all those years as mayor. Instead of having doors opened for him, he now uses a keycard.
He even pushes his own shopping cart.
“I go to grocery stores, yes. It’s amazing,” he said with his signature grin. “No, I enjoy that.”
Daley said he sometimes walks down the street alone, surprising his fellow pedestrians.
“They’ll say, ‘Where’s everybody at?’” he said.
But something far more significant is different these days. Daley is a single man. It has been nearly a year since his wife, Maggie, died on Thanksgiving night.
“She organized everything. ‘We’re going to Michigan here. We’re taking a trip here. We’re going thre,’” Daley said.
He has to organize all that himself now.
“You have to,” he said. “It’s all part of a new beginning.”
Despite such new beginnings, every corner of his law office sparks memories of Maggie, from a photo of the former mayor with Bishop Desmond Tutu – who Daley said “used to dance with Maggie all the time” – to artwork created by students in Maggie’s After School Matters program.
He sees that art as a lasting tribute to his late wife.
A picture of their youngest child, Lally, on her wedding day also serves as a reminder that, one week after Lally’s wedding, Maggie died.
Asked about their last conversations together, Daley said Maggie never told him how she wanted him to live his life after she died.
“She just said, be happy in life,” he said.
It seems former Mayor Daley is happy these days, traveling for business to China, Mexico, Russia and Brazil; and working next to his close friends Terry Newman and Jackie Heard.
He’s even started a new social chapter in his life, by dating again.
“Eventually, yeah, you date. You know, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “Life goes on. But, you know, always Maggie in my heart forever.”
People who see Mayor Daley all the time say he has many happy days, and as you can imagine, some sad ones, too.
Every time Williams has seen Daley the last year, he has been very upbeat.
Thursday, at 10 p.m., Williams will have more from Daley about what he mises about being mayor, whether he talks to his successor Rahm Emanuel, and his assessment of a fictional Chicago mayor, portrayed by actor Kelsey Grammer on the TV show “Boss.”