Richard J. Daley

Richard J. Daley was mayor of Chicago from 21 years, from 1955 to 1976. During that time, he headed a vast Democratic political machine. He died unexpectedly at age 74 on Dec. 20, 1976, when he had a heart attack during a visit to his doctor's office. Daley had been mayor longer than anyone else, and his death came as a shock to a generation of Chicagoans who could remember no other mayor. He was often described as the last of the big city bosses ruling over the last of the big city political machines. But he was also an expert on municipal government and especially city finance. He was the most powerful Democrat in Illinois and the most influential mayor in the nation. His son, Richard M. Daley, was first elected mayor in 1989 and won a sixth term in 2007.