Dorothy Rodham, mother of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, died Tuesday at age 92 after an illness.
The family said Mrs. Rodham died shortly after midnight, surrounded by her family at a Washington hospital. The secretary of state had canceled a planned trip to London and Istanbul to be at her mother’s side.
In a statement, the Clinton family hailed Mrs. Rodham as a woman who “overcame abandonment and hardship as a young girl to become the remarkable woman she was a warm, generous and strong woman; an intellectual; a woman who told a great joke and always got the joke; an extraordinary friend and, most of all, a loving wife, mother and grandmother.”
Mrs. Rodham was a witness to her daughter’s political victories and defeats. She avoided the spotlight and rarely gave interviews about herself or her daughter and son-in-law, former President Bill Clinton.
Dorothy Howell Rodham was born in Chicago in 1919, the daughter of a city firefighter. In her autobiography, “Living History,” Mrs. Clinton described her mother’s childhood as lonely and loveless.
The Howells shuttled Dorothy and her younger sister, Isabelle, among relatives and schools. She was 8 when her parents divorced in 1927 and she was sent with her sister to live with their paternal grandparents in Alhambra, Calif. Her grandmother could be cruel when not ignoring young Dorothy, Mrs. Clinton wrote.
Mrs. Rodham left her grandparents’ home at 14 when she found room and board as a mother’s helper to another family. After graduating from high school, she returned to Chicago on her mother’s promise of helping to pay for a college education if she lived with her and her new husband. After that promise was unfulfilled, Mrs. Rodham supported herself with a job in an office.
“I’m still amazed at how my mother emerged from her lonely early life as such an affectionate and levelheaded woman,” Mrs. Clinton wrote.
The Clinton family plans a private memorial service.
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