Funeral Mass to be held at Old St. Pat's for Maggie Daley

Chicago's First Lady Maggie Daley accepts a bouquet of tulips named for her ("Tulipa Maggie Daley") at a ceremony on April 18, 2006. (Chuck Berman, Tribune) >> Maggie Daley photos

Former Chicago first lady Maggie Daley, who died Thursday after a long fight with cancer, will be remembered during a public ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on Sunday, a family spokeswoman said today.

The public wake will begin at noon and end at 10 p.m. at the Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, according to Jacquelyn Heard, a family friend and the former mayor's spokeswoman.

The Daley family plans to attend, she said.

A public funeral Mass is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday at Old St. Patrick’s Church, Heard said.

Mrs. Daley, who was the city's first lady for 22 years, died a little after 6 p.m. Thursday, more than nine years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 68.

Today, the former mayor "is reflecting on the times he had with Mrs. Daley," Heard said.

Speaking at a news conference at the downtown headquarters for After School Matters today, Heard said Daley was glad he and the couple’s children were at her side when she passed away.

"And it is a very sad time. As you all know about our former mayor, he is emotional," Heard said. "This has to be one of the toughest, if not the toughest, situation that he will ever have to endure.”

The Daley family said in lieu of flowers, people can make donations to After School Matters, at www.afterschoolmatters.org, or to the Maggie Daley Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, at www.cancer.northwestern.edu.

Books for people to sign and offer condolences will be set up this weekend at City Hall and at the Chicago Cultural Center, Heard said. A book for children to sign will be available at the Gallery 37 building at 66 E. Randolph St., she said.

 “My heart goes out to the Daley family during this difficult time,” City Clerk Susana Mendoza said in a statement today.

“Maggie Daley was a true champion and advocate for all Chicagoans. She constantly inspired our city to dream bigger and do better,” Mendoza said.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of such a vibrant woman who inspired everyone. Her spirit and vision for Chicago touched the lives of all of us,’’ Mendoza said. “Her contributions to our great city were immeasurable and her legacy will live on in the many programs she supported and created.”

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a joint statement Friday expressing sadness at the news of her death.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Maggie Daley, a remarkable woman who, through her passionate support of education and the arts, built stronger communities with more opportunity for all and left an indelible mark on the city she loved," they said. "Her commitment to Chicago, to its future, and to her own family continue to inspire us both. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mayor Daley, Nora, Patrick, Lally, and the entire Daley family."

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White also commented on her passing today, saying he is “saddened by the news.’’

“I applaud her efforts to help young people become better educated and better prepared for their futures through her After School Matters program,’’ White said.  

“Her passion to help our young people reach their dreams and goals was the driving force for the program’s success.  Maggie Daley’s passing is a loss for the entire City of Chicago.  My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Daley family,’’ White said.

Katten Muchin Rosenman, the law firm where the former Mayor Richard M. Daley is now employed, said in a written statement that they are expressing their “deepest sympathies’’ to the family.

“Maggie Daley's vibrant spirit and innumerable contributions to Chicago, especially its young people, have left an indelible mark that will impact generations to come,’’ the firm’s statement read.

“Mrs. Daley lived for her husband and children and, in her graceful way, she touched as well the lives of many in Chicago, especially school children and people with special needs,’’ according to a statement issued today from Cardinal Francis George.

“While many grieve her loss, it is the life of her husband that is most affected.  As I remember her before the Lord, he too will be frequently in my prayers,’’ the cardinal’s statement said.

Father Jack Wall, pastor emeritus at Old St. Pat’s Church and a longtime Daley family friend, said it was appropriate that Maggie Daley died on the evening of Thanksgiving, because it was such an important holiday for her family and families across Chicago.

"On Thanksgiving morning I had the honor to be with them, to pray with them in the morning, and to watch them as they celebrated as a family together this feast of Thanksgiving," Wall said, adding that it was Maggie who made her husband promise Sundays would be set aside for private family activities while he was mayor.

"One of the things I think all of us as Chicagoans appreciated about Maggie is her deep sense of family. She was very conscious of all of our families," he said.

"As the sun set, the day ended and people were finishing their meals, she breathed her last. And I have a very special feeling that she was saying ‘You don’t have to call anybody up, because you’re all with your family on this day and we’re all together as a city, surrounded by the people we love the most, and sharing this time together,'" Wall said.

jebyrne@tribune.com