Chicago says farewell to former Mayor Jane Byrne

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Funeral services for former Mayor Jane Byrne were held today in the city's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The funeral was held at St. Vincent de Paul church. It was a ceremony complete with full honors, befitting a Mayor of Byrnes importance and significance. Byrne’s nieces and nephews were honorary pallbearers and her beloved daughter Cathy gave words of remembrance.

Angel Correa, who was a Jane Byrne campaign worker, friend and supporter, said she felt that Byrne was so special that he stood outside the church clutching his mementos of her that are now lifelong keepsakes.

“I used to driver her around to different locations in 1977 and – you know the snow helped but her administration was one of the best in the city of Chicago,” he said. “And these are things that I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life. Her inauguration ceremony that she invited me to and she came to my house plenty of times.”

Political consultant Thom Serafin remembered how Byrne capitalized on the snow-clogged streets to vilify, then, Mayor Michael Bilandic, who was in Florida during the blizzard. Byrne used the growing public anger to gather enough votes to win – becoming the first – and so far, only, female Mayor of Chicago.

“They did a couple of great ads – one where she was standing outside where the snow was. And at that time the city was ignoring the poor neighborhoods and plowing the better neighborhoods. She stood up for those individuals,” Serafin said.

Don Rose who was the architect of the Byrne election has always felt that the former mayor has been treated unfairly by historians – but no longer.

“She was unfairly maligned because of her gender and I’m glad, finally, that she’s getting some of the recognition she’s due,” Rose said.


The funeral procession went past City Hall and Byrne's former home on Chestnut Street.

She will be buried in Calvary Cemetery in Evanston.

Family members ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made either to the Byrne Chicago Scholarship at Loyola University School of Law, 25. E. Pearson St., Chicago, 60611, or to the National Shrine of St. Jude, c/o the St. Jude League, 205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, 60606.

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