Madelyn Dunham

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Did not live to see the election:

Statement from Barack Obama and Maya Soetoro-Ng on the Death of Their Grandmother

It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer.  She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility.  She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.  She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring.  Our debt to her is beyond measure. Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes, and prayers during this difficult time.  It brought our grandmother and us great comfort.  Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date.   In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to any worthy organization in search of a cure for cancer.

UPDATE: The campaign tells us that Madelyn Dunham died at home last night in Hawaii, which was between 4 and 5 a.m. today in Florida, where Obama was. Obama found out around 8 a.m. He has carried on through his campaign events today without mentioning it. However, I did witness a poignant moment just a few minutes ago, when Obama stopped by unannounced at his Charlotte, N.C., campaign office and made some calls to undecided voters. One of the voters to whom he was talking apparently brought up the issue of elder care, at which point Obama–whose manner until this point had been upbeat and teasing–suddenly looked deflated and sad. He turned his back on the press pool that was recording all of this, and told the voter: “Obviously, this is happening in my own family. … My grandmother stayed at home all the way through.”*


ARLINGTON, VA — Today, U.S. Senator John McCain and Mrs. Cindy McCain issued the following statement on the passing of Barack Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham:

“We offer our deepest condolences to Barack Obama and his family as they grieve the loss of their beloved grandmother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives.”

*Full and corrected quote after the jump.

As transcribed from ABC audio, this is what Obama told the voter to whom he talked by phone from his Charlotte, N.C., campaign office:

5:15 08
OBAMA: “Can I say this? Obviously this is happening in my own family, and in addition to social security and Medicare one of the things that I think is really important is exercising  home care a lot more (Obama turns his back away from cameras and audio becomes muzzled) My grandmother was able to stay in a home all the way until recently. Because she just had someone who could come in once and a whole (inaud) and that ends up saving a lot more money. Not only does it end up saving money for the state but (inaud) it’s a lot better for people like yourself and my grandmother. (iaud) who don’t want to feel constraints.