Maggie Daley, who dedicated herself to children’s issues and the arts while also zealously guarding her family’s privacy during 22 years as Chicago’s First Lady, died a little after 6 p.m. tonight, more than nine years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 68.
Mrs. Daley was surrounded by her husband and family members at her home, according to Jacquelyn Heard, a family friend and the former mayor’s spokeswoman.
“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,” Heard said.
Mrs. Daley had been hospitalized several times since her diagnosis, and in recent years had often used a walker, crutches or wheelchair during public appearances. Yet she remained a study in upbeat and gracious perseverance, downplaying her own struggles and eager to cast a spotlight on the needs of others.
Dr. Steven Rosen, director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, said he had seen Mrs. Daley this morning at her home, where in recent weeks she had been under the care of nurses and people from the center’s support care program.
He was called again to the home again between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., and arrived about the time of her death.
“She was comfortable,” Rosen said. “She died at home, with the mayor, their children and his siblings there.”
Rosen, who had cared for Mrs. Daley since 2002, when the cancer had already spread to her lungs, liver and bones, marveled at her resilience.
“She was heroic,” he said. “The way she dealt with it was great. She had great dignity, and she was an inspiration for all of us. She was a remarkable woman. All of us are blessed that she was in our lives.”