DOWNTOWN — Despite having a famous and powerful father, former Mayor Richard M. Daley said at a fundraiser Wednesday he led a normal childhood and his dad never brought his problems home.
The former mayor and his brother, Bill Daley, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, talked candidly about their childhood in Bridgeport at the fundraiser for the Gary Comer Youth Center in Grand Crossing at the University Club of Chicago, 76 E. Monroe St.
What the brothers said they found refreshing growing up was not politics but sneaking into the stockyards and going to White Sox games.
"Boy, did we love baseball," Richard M. Daley said. "I remember us going to the stockyards all the time. That was exciting to me. Politics was not exciting when I was growing up. I guess that's why we rarely visited my dad at his [City Hall] office."
Richard M. Daley said dinner provided a time for his dad to speak to him and his siblings.
"One by one we would take turns sitting next to him. He would ask each of us how school was going. He really valued education," he said. "I think 99.9 percent of our teachers are great teachers, and that's why I can't understand why there is not more respect for teachers."
The Boys Club, 3400 S. Emerald Ave., was the stomping ground for the Daley brothers.
"I am glad to see it is still there. That is where all the kids in the neighborhood went to hang out after school," Bill Daley said.
Eventually Richard M. Daley followed his dad's footsteps and entered politics. After 22 years in office, he retired in 2011 as Chicago's longest serving mayor, beating his father, who reigned on City Hall's Fifth Floor for 20 years.
Richard M. Daley first entered politics in 1972 when he was elected a state senator. But before running for office he sought advice from his dad, the "Boss."
"He told me I have to be committed to the job and have a passion for politics if I want to survive. He said when the day comes that you are no longer happy, then it's time to get out," Richard M. Daley said. "I went home and discussed me running for state senator with [wife] Maggie and that's when I made the choice to run for office."
The fundraiser's goal was to raise more than $100,000, said Greg Mooney, the youth center's executive director.
"I invite all of you to come visit the Gary Comer Youth Center to meet our youth and see what a difference we have made in their lives," Mooney said.
Dominique Peters was one of those children whose life was changed for the better thanks to her involvement with the center. The computer science major sophomore at Northwestern University said she aspires to one day be a video coordinator for an NFL team.
"The Gary Comer Youth Center opened a world for me I didn't know existed," Peters said at the luncheon event attended by more than 100 guests. "If it were not for the center and my mom helping me, I wouldn't be where I am today and that's on track to graduate in 2015."
Joining the Daley brothers at the event were many friends, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; City Treasurer Stephanie Neely; and Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham.
"I am not surprised that Mayor Daley and Bill have donated their time to help raise money for the Gary Comer Youth Center. Helping youth is something the Daley family has always done, especially Mayor Daley," Pfleger said.