JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Sen. Barack Obama’s grandmother has passed away on the eve of the presidential election, the campaign announced Monday afternoon.
Madelyn Dunham, who turned 86 last week, battled cancer and had suffered a broken hip.
Mr. Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng issued a statement that Mrs. Dunham died peacefully.
“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,” Ms. Soetoro-Ng said. “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.”
Ms. Soetoro-Ng expressed thanks for the outpouring of support shown to Mrs. Dunham, who helped raise Mr. Obama. His mother died of cancer when he was a young man and he never lived with his Kenyan father.
Ms. Soetoro-Ng said the family will hold a small, private ceremony at a later date to respect her grandmother’s wishes and asked for donations to organizations searching for cancer cures in lieu of flowers.
Mr. Obama left the campaign trail last month to spend about 24 hours with Mrs. Dunham in Hawaii.
Mr. Obama’s Republican rival Sen. John McCain offered a statement in sympathy.
“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,” Mr. McCain and his wife Cindy McCain said in a statement.