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Marian Robinson, mother of Michelle Obama, dies at 86

Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother, dies at 86
Marian Robinson, mother of Michelle Obama, dies at 86 00:59

Marian Robinson, the mother of former first lady Michelle Obama, has died at the age of 86, her family announced Friday.

"She passed peacefully this morning, and right now, none of us are quite sure how exactly we'll move on without her," the statement read.

Official White House Portraits Of Barack And Michelle Obama Unveiled
Marian Robinson, former first lady Michelle Obama's mother, arrives before the official White House portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama were unveiled during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 7, 2022.  Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Robinson was born in 1937 and grew up on Chicago's South Side, one of seven children. She trained as a teacher before working as a secretary. She married Fraser Robinson, and they had two children together, Michelle and Craig Robinson. Fraser died in 1991.

When her son-in-law, former President Barack Obama, won the presidency in 2008, she was coaxed by the family into leaving Chicago and moving into the White House.

"We needed her," the family's statement read Friday. "The girls needed her. And she ended up being our rock through it all."

In a 2018 interview with "CBS Mornings" alongside her daughter, she described the move as a "huge adjustment," but felt she needed to do it to help care for her granddaughters, Sasha and Malia Obama.  

"I felt like this was going to be a very hard life for both of them, and I … was worried about their safety. And I was worried about my grandkids," Robinson told "CBS Mornings."

However, Michelle Obama said her mother quickly became a "beloved figure" in the White House.

"She had a stream of people," Obama said back in 2018. "The butlers, the housekeepers. They would all stop by ... Grandma's room was like the confessional. You know, everyone would go there and just unload, you know? And then they'd leave. People still visit with mom in Chicago."

Following Obama's second term, Robinson returned to Chicago, "reconnecting with longtime friends, trading wise-cracks, traveling, and enjoying a good glass of wine," her family said.

In that 2018 interview, she said she did not miss the White House, just the people, "because they were like family to me."

"As a mother, she was our backstop, a calm and nonjudgmental witness to our triumphs and stumbles," the family said Friday. "She was always, always there, welcoming us back home no matter how far we had journeyed, with that deep and abiding love."

On Saturday, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement that Robinson was a "devoted mother and grandmother with a fierce and unconditional love of her family."

"With the blessing of friendship, we felt that love ourselves – with every quiet smile or warm embrace she shared with us," the Bidens said. "She believed, like we do, that family is the beginning, middle and end. She moved into the White House to be there for her family when they needed her the most, and in so doing, she served her country right alongside them. Her life is a reminder that we are a great nation because we are a good people."

— Jessica Kegu contributed to this report.

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