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Maggie Daley ‘was at peace,’ doctor says

White House Chief Staff Bill Daley exits building after death Maggie Daley Thursday evening November 24 Th 2011 I

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley exits the building after the death of Maggie Daley Thursday evening November 24 Th, 2011 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 26, 2011 9:08AM

Prominent Chicagoans on Thursday night mourned the loss of former First Lady Maggie Daley, describing a woman of extraordinary strength, warmth and perseverance who lived a life of quiet dignity in the face of terminal illness.

“Her strength of character and thoughtfulness and beliefs were so extraordinary,” said Grace Barry, who met Mrs. Daley after moving to Chicago more than 30 years ago. “Think about how many people have suffered through her illness in the incredibly strong way that she did.”

Barry described her friend as “a gifted person and a strong person” whose dedication to Chicago’s children never wavered.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that every Chicagoan “has been touched by her vision and determination.”

“While Mayor Daley served as the head of this city, Maggie was its heart,” Emanuel said.

“Maggie’s most treasured role was as a wife, mother and grandmother. Our hearts go out to Mayor Daley, Nora, Patrick, Lally and the rest of the Daley family. Just as Maggie will remain a constant presence in their lives, she will remain a constant presence in our city.”

Sen. Dick Durbin said Mrs. Daley “had more friends than all of us combined” and remembers seeing her with her family last St. Patrick’s Day at Old St. Patrick’s Church.

“The [Daley] kids and the grandkids were all dressed in green,” he said. “Her strength wasn’t what it was before, but the Shannon Rovers started up with the bagpipes and these kids all came over by her, and I looked over at her and Rich beaming with the kind of joy parents and grandparents live for. We’re going to miss her. She was a wonderful, caring, kind person.”

Governor Pat Quinn mourned the loss of “a great treasure.”

“Maggie Daley was a woman for all seasons who treated Chicago residents like family and served up hope and inspiration wherever she went,” he said.

Dr. Steve Rosen, Mrs. Daley’s oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, described her as “heroic” and a medical miracle for surviving metastatic breast cancer for so long.

“She was on constant therapy for a decade,” Rosen said. “Most individuals who are on treatment and chemotherapy find after a few months that they struggle to continue with it. But she was heroic. She was just a very sweet, lovable woman of great substance. She always focused on doing the right thing. It’s a combination of her family support system and her deep personal spirituality.”

Rosen said Mrs. Daley has been at home for the last few weeks, confined to bed or a chair but comfortable in her final days. She knew the prognosis was poor, he said. Fr. Jack Wall of Old St. Patrick’s Church arrived at the family’s home shortly after she died.

“We were able to provide comfort at the end,” Rosen said.

“It was remarkable that she rallied herself for (her daughter Elizabeth’s Nov. 17) wedding,” he said.

“She looked beautiful. She knew that there was very little that we could do to control the disease at this juncture and she was at peace.”

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