Published On: Fri, Nov 14th, 2014

First woman mayor of Chicago, Jane Byrne, dead at 80

Chicago’s first and only female mayor Jane Byrne has died, according to reports Friday morning. She was 80 years old.

The former mayor, now 81, had been hospitalized last year after a stroke and has ensured several health issues. Kathy Byrne, her daughter, told family friends her mother died at 10 a.m., resting comfortably at her North Side home.

Mayor Jane Byrne speaking in 1984  photo/screenshot YouTube

Mayor Jane Byrne speaking in 1984 photo/screenshot YouTube

Byrne served the city as mayor from 1979-1983, winning a race that turned sharply after a massive blizzard handicapped the city.

“I think it’s time to get Chicago working again, for you,” she said in a campaign ad that proved the turning point in the election. Byrne easily defeated incumbent Mayor Michael Bilandic, who denied the extent of the problem, claiming city streets were clear when cars were buried in snow.

The City Council also recently voted to rename the plaza outside the Old Chicago Water Tower after Byrne, but a formal renaming ceremony was not held before her death.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, with Byrne’s death, the city “has lost a great trailblazer.”

“Mayor Byrne was a Chicago icon who lived a remarkable life of service to our city,” Emanuel said in a written statement. “The thoughts and prayers of the people of Chicago are with her daughter Kathy and her many friends at this difficult time.”

Byrne made a rare public appearance at a Chicago ceremony commemorating the city’s Circle Interchange being renamed in her honor.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.


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