‘We are lifted up’ – Michelle Obama eulogizes mom Marian Robinson as she passes away at 86

Stephen Nartey June 03, 2024
Marian Robinson/Photo credit: Michelle Obama via Instagram

Marian Robinson, mother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, passed away on Friday at the age of 86, according to a family statement.

“She passed peacefully this morning, and right now, none of us are quite sure how exactly we’ll move on without her,” the Obama family said. Robinson, who was a constant presence at the White House throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, retired from her job as a bank executive secretary during Obama’s 2008 campaign to help care for her granddaughters, Malia and Sasha, then 10 and 7.

“She didn’t want anyone else taking care of the kids but her,” Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a former spokeswoman for Michelle Obama, said in 2009. “She wanted to be the one there.”

She therefore moved into the White House after Obama’s inauguration, initially planning a temporary stay to help her granddaughters adjust and decide if she wanted to remain in Washington, D.C., permanently, according to the New York Post.

“I was worried about my grandkids,” Robinson said in a 2018 interview with CBS, explaining her decision to leave her native Chicago. “That’s what got me to move to DC.”

As “first grandmother,” Robinson accompanied her granddaughters to school and greeted them at the White House when they returned to provide a sense of normalcy. She participated in child-centric events like the Easter Egg Roll and Halloween trick-or-treating.

Though she occasionally joined the Obamas on overseas trips, she mostly kept a low profile.

“The trappings and glamour of the White House were never a great fit for Marian Robinson,” the Obama family statement said, noting that she insisted on doing her own laundry. “‘Just show me how to work the washing machine and I’m good,’ she’d say.”

Among the many distinguished guests at the White House, the only one Robinson specifically requested to meet was Pope Francis, during his visit in September 2015.

“Rather than hobnobbing with Oscar winners or Nobel laureates, she preferred spending her time upstairs with a TV tray,” the Obamas said. 

A widow and lifelong Chicago resident, Robinson moved to the White House but returned to Chicago after her son-in-law’s second term. She spent her days reconnecting with friends, trading wisecracks, traveling, and enjoying a good glass of wine.

“We will all miss her greatly, and we wish she were here to offer us some perspective, to mend our heavy hearts with a laugh and a dose of her wisdom,” the family statement read.

“In our sadness, we are lifted up by the extraordinary gift of her life,” the statement added. “And we will spend the rest of ours trying to live up to her example.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 3, 2024


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