Maggie Daley never donated thousands of dollars to have her own cancer center.
Instead it was her spirit and the determination that she displayed while fighting metastasized breast cancer that inspired doctors at Northwestern Memorial to honor her with the Maggie Daley Center for Women’s Cancer Care.
As Chicago’s First Lady she was often more openly loved and respected by the city than her husband.
Maggie Daley cared deeply about teenagers and the arts. She combined these interests by founding After School Matters in 1991. This foundation was created in conjunction with Gallery 37, an undeveloped block in the Loop that allowed teenagers who were interested in the arts to perform apprenticeships, develop their own skills and sometimes earn a stipend. This program gave Chicago teenagers the opportunity to work with professional artists. Gallery 37 was nationally acclaimed as a hub of creative activity for the city’s youth.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave Mrs. Daley the "After School for All" champion award to honor her work for the after school programs in Chicago.
Mrs. Daley was an intensely private and humble person who used her position as a public figure to advocate for the after school programs that were close to her heart.
The Pittsburgh, Penn., native stepped into the public spotlight when she met Richard M. Daley at a Christmas party at the age of 26, when she was an account executive at Xerox. Fifteen months after that fateful meeting, they were married.
Later in life she also worked as a consultant for the Academy of Achievement, a Washington-based non-profit.
While the First Lady of Chicago may be gone, come springtime her presence will most certainly be felt again. As the frost melts and the Chicago winter fades away, the deep pink of the tulip named in her honor will begin to blossom along the Magnificent Mile.
Ironically, tulips were the only flower Mrs. Daley carried on her wedding day. Like the eternal flame for President John F. Kennedy, this will serve as a visual legacy forever reminding Chicago of the woman who fought for the children, culture and beauty of their city.