Eleanor "Sis" Daley, 95, the matriarch of the Daley political clan who offered unwavering behind-the-scenes support to husband Richard J. Daley during his long reign as Chicago mayor, died Feb. 16 at her home in Chicago after an apparent stroke.
Mrs. Daley, born Eleanor Guilfoyle, was the widow of the former Chicago mayor and mother of the current mayor, Richard M. Daley.
She was a Chicago native who lived in the tight-knit Bridgeport neighborhood long associated with the political family, which also includes another son, former U.S. commerce secretary William Daley.
Mrs. Daley was hospitalized after a fall and minor stroke in 2001 and in 1999 for an irregular heartbeat.
She eschewed the political limelight and focused her energy on raising her seven children and offering private support to her husband, who ran Chicago's Democratic machine for 21 years until his death in 1976.
Still, friends said she had influence.
"I'm sure there are a lot of things she was responsible for, truth be told," Edward M. Burke, a longtime family friend and Chicago alderman, told the Chicago Tribune. "I have it on good authority that she was not reluctant to make her opinion known to the mayor."
The couple married in Bridgeport in 1936 and soon moved into a neighborhood bungalow that became the family bunker for decades, off limits to outside politicians and reporters. In a rare public outburst, she displayed her fierce family loyalty by demanding in 1971 that a local grocery chain stop selling "Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago," the best-selling and unauthorized biography by legendary columnist Mike Royko. She called the unflattering portrayal "trash" and "hogwash."
"Of course the criticisms bother me," she said. "I'm the buffer between my husband and his office. But I know the man his enemies portray as a 'dese-dem-dose' guy is an intelligent man."
Her son Richard, who has his father's popularity along with a measure of a reputation for being a political boss, has been mayor since 1989.
Other survivors include sons John, a Cook County commissioner, and Michael, a Chicago lawyer; and two daughters, Mary Carol and Patricia. A third daughter, Eleanor, died in 1998 at age 56.