Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he has an idea for an enduring city tribute to former first lady Maggie Daley – some way to “give a voice to a life’s work on behalf of the children” of Chicago – and he’s already talking to the Daley family about the idea.
One day after Mrs. Daley was laid to rest, Emanuel refused to reveal any specifics about his idea when asked whether the Chicago Cultural Center should be renamed the Maggie Daley Cultural Center.
Family matriarch Eleanor “Sis” Daley saved the former central library from the wrecking ball when her husband, former Mayor Richard J. Daley, had other ideas. Maggie Daley picked up the mantle from her mother-in-law, raised money to renovate the treasured building and brought it back to life as a center for concerts and other civic events. Maggie also maintained an office in the building.
“Whatever I do, first of all, I’ll do with the family and I’m in conversations with them. But there’s nothing I would name that fully would grasp her contribution to making this city a richer and stronger city,” Emanuel said.
“I, too, am thinking of something, but it’s not for me to do. It’s for me to do with the family. I do it in partnership with them to somehow give a voice to a life’s work on behalf of the children … and the depth of her affection for this city and the people that make it up.”
Maggie Daley – a champion of the arts and the driving force behind the After School Matters program to occupy and educate Chicago young people – died on Thanksgiving Day after a heroic, nine-year battle against metastatic breast cancer that served as an inspiration to breast cancer survivors. She was 68.
If Emanuel wants to pay homage to Maggie Daley, renaming the Cultural Center is not the only option. He could also rename Northerly Island, formerly the site of Meigs Field, the lakefront airport that her husband famously had demolished under the cloak of darkness in 2003.
Maggie Daley was a driving force behind the controversial decision to turn Meigs into a nature park. And in 1996 – when Richard M. Daley first raised the idea and long before Meigs became a political football in a bitter battle with then-Gov. Jim Edgar – Richard M. Daley had chosen his wife to co-chair a committee charged with presiding over the airport’s conversion to a park.
The wife of Chicago’s longest-serving mayor was also a founder of the Francis Xavier Warde School next door to Old St. Patrick’s Church, where her funeral mass was held.
It started in a storefront with 35 students – Chicago’s first new Catholic school in over 25 years and the only one downtown – and now serves 900 students at two campuses. Elizabeth “Lally” Daley was among those in the school’s first graduating class.