Remembering Richard J. Daley

Working for the Mayor

You had a direct relationship. There was no in-between. Several of the subsequent mayors have had layers of administration. With Daley, it was direct, one on one.

Jerome Butler, City Architect, interview excerpt, July 8, 2002

I just think that Daley went in and, to many people’s surprise, he appointed young, professorial type people to key positions. And he relied on them….They weren’t all, ‘Yes men.’ They were people who were unique in their fields and in their professions.

Richard Elrod, Chief Prosecutor for City of Chicago, interview excerpt, April 10, 2009


That’s not a field you’re going into to get rich. He was able to convince some people, who obviously became financially more successful in many cases, to make some sacrifices and work for this cause….There was this unique, charismatic leadership about him that just drew people to him and made them want to win with him.

Peter Thompson, grandson of Richard J. Daley, June 11, 2002

He always called me Joe when he was happy with me. He normally called me Commissioner, and if he was really mad at me he’d call me Mr. Fitzgerald.

Joseph Fitzgerald, Chicago Building Commissioner, interview excerpt, July 24, 2014


Daley wanted to make every decision, from who put the light on and who flushed the toilet. He wanted to make every decision. But the nice thing about Daley was that he had a cadre of people around him and he would take advice.

Dan Rostenkowski, Congressman, interview excerpt, July 1, 2004


Critics mock the mispronunciation or tangled syntax of the mayor’s public speaking, but none of that criticism is from anyone who ever participated in a one-on-one or a small group meeting with him. Up close and personal he was a powerhouse.

Richard L. Curry, Corporation Counsel City of Chicago 1970-1974, excerpt from written statement, November 10, 2014


So he’d keep pounding away at whatever the problems were and trying to bring in new ideas. He was susceptible to new ideas, if they were good ideas, no matter who gave them to him, even if it was the guy who was the starter to the elevators down on the main floor of the hall, or one of his cabinet people, or if it was a social acquaintance of his. He really was open. He also had a kind of common touch.

Ray Simon, Corporation Counsel City of Chicago 1965-1969, interview excerpt, June 30, 2010

Mary Junquera was his secretary for many years. She said that every single night when he left the office, he came to her desk and thanked her for her work that day. He said, “With the help of God, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Patricia Daley-Martino, daughter of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, June 12, 2002

Daley's official photographer remembers in this audio clip the time he took what came to be the mayor's iconic official photograph.

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