Patrick Daley: 'She Always Had The Time To Simply Be Our Mother'

Updated 11/28/11 – 5:55 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago bid a final farewell to beloved former first lady Maggie Daley at her funeral on Monday.

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A public funeral mass was held Monday morning at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church just west of downtown.

Maggie Daley, 68, was Chicago’s first lady for 22 years while her husband, Richard M. Daley, was mayor. She died on Thanksgiving Day after a nearly decade-long battle with cancer.

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PHOTOS: Maggie Daley’s Funeral

At 10 a.m., pallbearers took Maggie Daley’s casket from the Chicago Cultural Center – where a public wake was held on Sunday – to a waiting hearse to take it to the church. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his three children and three grandchildren followed behind the hearse, each carrying a single flower.

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The funeral 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.

After arriving at the church, a somber Mayor Daley placed his hands on his grandchildren’s shoulders as they waited for the hearse to pull up to the church. The casket carrying the former first lady was carried in by her three brothers, Francis Corbett, James Corbett and Joseph Corbett; the couple’s two sons-in-law, Sean Conroy and Sam Hotchkiss; and Richard Daley’s three brothers, Michael Daley, William Daley and John Daley.

During the funeral procession, the Shannon Rovers bagpipers played the folk song “When You and I Were Young, Maggie.” The chorus includes the line: “When I first said I loved only you, Maggie, and you said you loved only me…”

Maggie’s son, Patrick Daley, stood with his sisters, Nora Daley Conroy and Elizabeth “Lally” Daley Hotchkiss, as he delivered his mother’s eulogy.

“We do our best to inspire our children by setting strong examples for them,” Patrick Daley said. “Mom set powerful examples in her everyday life and as a woman who has achieved great things.”

Mayor Daley often hugged his grandchildren or squeezed his children’s shoulders during the service as they listened to praise for a woman remembered by many as the “Heart of Chicago.”

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Rev. Jack Wall, who was the main celebrant of the funeral mass, said Maggie, a native of Pittsburgh, was “the greatest gift, the best gift, that Pittsburgh ever gave this city.”

“Her family was so much bigger than her own blood kin. They all let us in to the reality of their hearts, Rich and Maggie,” Wall said. “Maggie especially had this passion about the children of our city. She saw the potential and the possibilities of every child, the dream that every child could nurture those talents and gifts.”

“Our mom loved this city and the youth of Chicago,” Patrick added. “You only have to walk around the city and see all the institutions on which she left her imprint.”

Patrick spoke at length of his mother’s commitment to the children of Chicago and her work in founding After School Matters – a program to give public school students access to arts, music, technology and other programs – and to co-found The Frances Xavier Warde School – a school associated with Old St. Pat’s that Maggie’s daughter, Lally, and her grandchildren have all attended.

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Students from The Frances Xavier Warde School stood outside the church Monday morning to pay their respects as the casket arrived for the funeral.

“These organizations embody the city of Chicago and its youth,” Patrick Daley said.

Wall also praised Maggie for her work in founding Gallery 37 and After School Matters to provide cultural, artistic and other opportunities for public school students outside of school

“It mattered to Maggie and she dragged us all along, nobody quite getting what this was going to be,” Wall said. “First with Gallery 37 and then this great effort to see the talent and giftedness of every child.”

“She offered this vision of loving our children, the city kids … to help them discover their treasure of goodness. Let us honor what she’s telling us and treasure this vision and let us work to keep it going and keep it strong,” Wall added.

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Wall also honored Maggie for her strength during her nearly decade-long battle with cancer, remembering her strength and positive attitude all through her final years.

“We know the battles she’s had in the last several years, but through it all she was living from another place,” Wall added. “Some people, when the going gets tough, they just see themselves as victims and some people despair and don’t know how to do it, but this woman kept on saying nothing is going to take life from me, nothing. I’m too busy giving it away.”

Perhaps the most emotional moment for the family was when Patrick Daley read the final tribute, his voice cracking as he spoke.

“For Chicagoans, she was a first lady, for her organizations she was a leader, and to so many others a great friend. For us, she was a grandmother and a sister, a wife and a mother,” he said. “We are so proud of our mother. She led such a positive live, impacting so many. Yet, for such an accomplished woman with so many professional and personal commitments, she always had the time to simply be our mother. Mom, we love you, we miss you and hold Kevin close until we see you again.”

Patrick’s last line was a reference to his late brother, Kevin, who died a few months shy of his third birthday in 1981, from complications from spina bifida.

Nora and Lally, who had managed to keep their composure as they walked out of the church, wiped away tears after the tribute as hugged their father, whose eyes began to water.

Maggie was also remembered for her devotion to beautifying the city and her love for tulips. A rainbow of flowers surrounded the altar and family members each carried a single white tulip into the church, lovingly placing them on her casket before the funeral mass.

“Let us commit ourselves to work to keep this city a beautiful place,” Wall said in his eulogy.

Wall also spoke of Maggie as an inspiration to an entire city in the way she lived her life, by staying strong and upbeat even in the face of her long struggle with cancer.

“This gracious woman tapped into the power, this mystery of God’s gracious love for her, and simply lived it; lived it every day,” Wall said. “You saw it in her face and her smile.”

“How will we always see Maggie?” Wall added. “It is Maggie with that radiating smile; radiating from the inside out.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife attended the funeral, as did U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, U.S. Sen Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, also came to Chicago from Washington, D.C., to attend the funeral.

There were also friends from Maggie’s college days in Ohio, who knew the smart young Maggie Corbett, who eventually fell in love with and married Richard Daley.

“It was a very good partnership and they both played off of each other’s strengths,” her college friend Judy Dorsey said. “She was an extraordinary woman and she had an extraordinary life and she knew it and she was very blessed and all of us have been very blessed to have known her and we’re going to miss her very much.”

Another college friend, Sandy Murray, said she never could have imagined then that Maggie would have become such an important person to the city of Chicago.

“She was an important person to all the people that knew her. I was saying she had a lot of brothers,” she said. “At the university … every guy thought Maggie was their best friend. … And she was.”

Mayor Daley held the hands of two of his grandchildren as his family left the church for a procession to a private burial.

Maggie was known for championing many social and charitable causes, including her beloved After School Matters – a program she founded in 1991 to offer children various educational, artistic and career-building activities outside of school.

She also was seen as an important face in the fight against cancer, having always put on a brave, smiling face in her own struggle against breast cancer. Northwestern University has honored her with a cancer research center in her name at Prentice Women’s Hospital.

It was her strength in the face of cancer that also endeared Maggie to the city she served.

“She never gave up and that’s an inspiration to all women,” Chicagoan Margaret Green said.

Maggie also has been credited with helping save and restore the old Chicago Public Library at Michigan Avenue and Washington Street — now the Chicago Cultural Center, where her public wake was held on Sunday. Once targeted for demolition, she and her mother-in-law Eleanor “Sis” Daley, were instrumental in saving the building. Sis Daley saved the former library from the wrecking ball when her husband, Richard J. Daley was mayor and Maggie Daley raised funds to save the building and renovate it during her husband’s time in office.

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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.