In Memoriam: Joel Daly '88, longtime news anchor and Chicago-Kent alumnus
Joel Daly, a legendary Chicago news broadcaster and Chicago-Kent College of Law alumnus, died October 22, 2020, at the age of 86. Daly was honored among the Chicago-Kent’s 125 Alumni of Distinction in 2013, and he was a member of Chicago-Kent’s first National Trial Competition championship team.
Daly had a distinguished broadcast journalism career at WLS-TV (ABC 7 Chicago) before he decided to attend law school at the age of 50. According to an obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daly took four years of night courses and two summer semesters, and often read his law books in the car while his wife, Sue, drove to their Wisconsin summer home. He graduated in 1988.
Daly was a member of the first Chicago-Kent Trial Advocacy team to win a national title in 1988. The team also included former Cook County Circuit Court Judge Lauretta Higgins Wolfson and former United States Congressman Peter Roskam. Chicago-Kent Director of Trial Advocacy David Erickson coached the team along with former Illinois Appellate Court Justice Warren Wolfson. Erickson says winning the National Trial Competition put the law school’s trial advocacy program on the national stage. The competition was in Dallas that year, and Erickson recalls that Daly’s daughter, Kelly, gave birth to his first grandchild on the same day they defeated Stetson University College of Law for the title.
“Joel was an extraordinary student, lawyer, and journalist, but, most importantly, he was a kind and generous man who was always ready to help his teammates and other fellow students,” Erickson says. “He was truly a special person.”
Kelly Daly ’90, who was also an evening student at Chicago-Kent, says it was a dynamic time in her father’s life. He had wanted to attend law school since his undergraduate college days at Yale University. When Kelly graduated from Chicago-Kent, her father got to hood her while her two-year-old daughter received her diploma.
“I think the most important thing dad would say, having started law school at 50, is just how many people would come up to him through the years to tell him, ‘I went back to school because of you,’” she says. “He had incredible times and gained so many new people in his life. He was so proud!”
Daly became a practicing trial lawyer with Corboy & Demetrio. He was an adjunct professor at both Chicago-Kent and the former John Marshall Law School, and later in his career served as an information officer for the Federal District Court in Chicago.
Throughout his time in law school and private practice, Daly continued with his journalism career and officially retired from WLS-TV in 2005. Daly won five Emmys for his reporting and writing while at WLS-TV in Chicago and received the first-ever Broadcast Pioneer Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association in 2008. He was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 2001 as a “living legend.”
Daly was preceded in death by his wife, and sons Doug and Scott. In addition to his daughter Kelly, Daly is survived by his sister Viola Patrice Kraus and granddaughters Kate Scott Daly and Madison Daly. A private funeral service will be held next spring.