The First Lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, 1943-2011

The First Lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, 1943-2011
Maggie Daley, at her husband's side

The former first lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, 68, died yesterday just after 6pm, in her home with her family by her side. "The mayor and his family would like to thank the people of Chicago for the kindness they have shown Mrs. Daley over the years, and they appreciate your prayers at this time," said Jacquelyn Heard, the mayor’s former spokeswoman and family friend.

Dr. Steven Rosen, her doctor since 2002 called her heroic. "She had great dignity, and she was an inspiration for all of us."

"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Maggie Daley. Maggie was an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to public service. While she will be sorely missed, her initiatives on behalf of Chicago’s youth live on as national models for how to create environments for children to learn and grow outside the classroom. Maggie’s commitment to the children and people of Chicago was surpassed only by her devotion to her family. Tonight, our thoughts and prayers are with Mayor Daley, Nora, Patrick, Lally and the entire Daley family," President Obama said in a statement late Thursday night.

"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," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last night.

"Tonight, 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," Governor Pat Quinn said.

Her time appeared to be imminent. The rumors started when the mayor declined to run for another term. More recently, when her daughter Elizabeth’s wedding was moved up from New Year’s Eve to November 17th; it was speculated Mrs. Daley’s health was the reason behind the move. Then Wednesday, the mayor canceled travel plans including a speaking engagement at Harvard.

Mrs. Daley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. In her public battle with cancer, Maggie Daley was an inspiration to us all. Her dignity and  strength should be a model for us all as she fought her illness.

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