Eleanor "Sis" Daley

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"Eleanor Daley" redirects here. For the Canadian musician, see Eleanor Joanne Daley. For the fictional child currently living in South America, see Fair City.
Eleanor "Sis" Daley
Daley in 1972.
Born Eleanor Guilfoyle
(1907-03-04)March 4, 1907
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died February 16, 2003(2003-02-16) (aged 95)
Bridgeport, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Saint Mary High School
Known for First lady of Chicago (1955–76)
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Richard J. Daley (m. 1936–76)
(his death)
Family Richard M. Daley (son)
John P. Daley (son)
Michael Daley (son)
Patricia Daley-Martino (daughter)
Mary Carol Daley-Vanecko (daughter)
William M. Daley (son)
Eleanor Daley (daughter)
Patrick R. Daley (grandson)

Eleanor "Sis" Daley (née Guilfoyle; March 4, 1907 – February 16, 2003) was the wife of former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley and the mother of former mayor Richard M. Daley. She was first lady of Chicago from 1955 until her husband's death in 1976, and first mother from 1989 until her death in 2003.


Born in the south side Chicago neighborhood of Canaryville in 1907 as Eleanor Guilfoyle to a large Irish family, she met Richard J. Daley at a local ball game. Her brother, Floyd, who was a friend of Daley's, introduced the couple. Their first date was attending a Chicago White Sox game. "Sis" was a graduate of Saint Mary High School and was a secretary at a local paint company. After a six-year-long courtship, during which her future husband finished law school, they married on June 17, 1936. The Daleys lived in a modest brick bungalow at 3536 South Lowe Street, close to where both had grown up.[1] They had three daughters and four sons, in that order. Their eldest son, Richard M. Daley, was mayor of Chicago from 1989 through 2011. The youngest son, William M. Daley, served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 1997-2000. Another son, John P. Daley, is a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

"Sis" Daley was a quiet woman who seldom spoke out on political matters. One exception was her criticism of Boss, the 1971 Mike Royko biography of Mayor Daley portraying the mayor in an unfavorable light. Always fiercely protective of her husband and family, her criticism of the book led to one local retailer leaving the book off its shelves. In 1972, developers had obtained the city's tentative approval of a proposal to tear down the old Chicago Public Library downtown and replace it with a modern office tower. Asked her view of the proposal by a Chicago Tribune reporter, Sis Daley observed that she had used the library as a child, and said of the demolition, "I don't think that would be nice." Soon thereafter, a city commission unanimously voted down the project.

Of his wife, the mayor told the press that "She doesn't speak for me and I don't speak for her. She is able to speak for herself very well, whatever she has on her mind." It was said that although her husband may have controlled every aspect of the city's government, "Sis" controlled everything inside their house.

In her later years as a widow and especially during her son's tenure as mayor she became something of a matriarch of Chicago, in fact her birthday of March 4 happens to also be the anniversary of the incorporation of the city. She attended events to honor her late husband at the University of Illinois at Chicago, including the dedication of the university library named after him in 1999 and on the centenary of his birth in 2002. Mrs. Daley died on February 16, 2003 in her Bridgeport home of a stroke 16 days shy of her 96th birthday as her son was running for a fifth term as mayor.


  1. ^ Cohen, Adam; Taylor, Elizabeth, eds. (2000). American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley--His Battle for Chicago and the Nation. Little, Brown and Company. p. 624. ISBN 0-316-83403-3. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 

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