Marian Robinson, Mother of Michelle Obama, Passes Away at 86

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Marian Shields Robinson, the mother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, has passed away peacefully at the age of 86. Known for her unique role within the First Family, Robinson moved to the White House alongside her daughter and son-in-law, President Barack Obama, after his election in 2008.

In a heartfelt statement, Michelle Obama, her brother Craig Robinson, and their families honored their mother’s legacy, stating, “There was and will be only one Marian Robinson. In our sadness, we are lifted by the extraordinary gift of her life. And we will spend the rest of ours trying to live up to her example.”

Marian Robinson was notable not only as the mother of the nation’s first Black First Lady but also as one of the rare in-laws who resided in the White House with the President and his immediate family.

Before January 2009, Robinson had spent her entire life in Chicago. A widow in her early 70s when Obama was elected, she initially resisted the idea of relocating to Washington, D.C. President Obama suggested she try living in Washington for three months before making a final decision. Michelle Obama enlisted her brother to help persuade their mother to make the move.

“There were many good and valid reasons that Michelle raised with me, not the least of which was the opportunity to continue spending time with my granddaughters, Malia and Sasha, and to assist in giving them a sense of normalcy that is a priority for both of their parents, as has been from the time Barack began his political career,” Mrs. Robinson wrote in the foreword to “A Game of Character,” a memoir by her son, Craig Robinson, formerly the head men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University.

Initially, Robinson felt she could support her family by visiting periodically without fully relocating. However, her son persuaded her to view the move as a chance for personal growth and new experiences.

“As a compromise, I opted to move to the White House after all, at least temporarily, while still reserving lots of time to travel and maintain a certain amount of autonomy,” she wrote.

When Marian Robinson moved to the White House in 2009, her granddaughters Malia and Sasha were just 10 and 7 years old, respectively. During the presidential campaign, Robinson had taken on the role of a surrogate parent, retiring from her job as a bank secretary to help care for her granddaughters.

Marian Robinson’s life and legacy will be remembered fondly by her family and the many lives she touched during her remarkable journey.


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