Chicago's city council honored Richard M. Daley Wednesday during his last council meeting as mayor.
Words of thanks and appreciation, along with inside jokes and a few almost-tears, were bestowed upon Mayor Daley for almost two hours. Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) kicked it all off, speaking highly of his former political adversary and acknowledging that not many mayors leave the seat voluntarily.
“There’s an old Irish saying," Burke began. "'You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your father was.' And for the past 22 years, no one has demonstrated the wisdom of that adage more than Mayor Richard M. Daley."
Burke went on to say Daley set his own path during his 23-year tenure, aside from the achievements of his father, former Mayor Richard J. Daley. "While some may have taken refuge in the career of their father ... this mayor sought his own road."
On behalf of the council, Burke presented Daley with a crystal bowl engraved with the city seal, the dates of Daley's service in office and the names of the 129 council members he oversaw.
"We hope it will be a pleasant reminder of the days that you've spent here in this historic chamber," Burke quipped.
Even Ald. Berny Stone, who recently lost his seat to Debra Silverstein in April's run-off elections, had well wishes for Daley and his family.
"I'm proud to say that whatever has happened, you insisted that this city was going to become a world-class city, and it is a world-class city," Stone said. "I wish you many, many years of success in whatever you choose to do from this point on."
Daley’s son, Patrick, and daughter, Nora Conroy, sat in on the meeting. First lady Maggie Daley is said to still be in the hospital after she was re-admitted for "flu-like" symptoms.
Daley took office in 1989, after turbulent City Council wars left the council racially divided. Daley ended those conflicts and, during the rest of his tenure, never saw fewer than 60 percent of the vote in any mayoral election.
In past weeks, Daley embarked on what he called his Neighborhood Appreciation Tour, greeting residents and thanking them for their support. He says he looks forward to life after May 16, when Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel gets sworn in. Daley has even discussed teaching a class or writing a book.
Wednesday's council meeting is also the last for 13 aldermen either retiring or voted out of office, including Stone who lost his seat after 38 years of service.