Democratic Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died on November 2, 2008, following a bout with cancer, Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said Monday.
Madelyn Lee Payne was born in Peru, Kansa on Oct. 26, 1922. She was 86. She was the daughter of Rolla Charles and Leona (McCurry) Payne.
She recalled them as "stern Methodist parents who did not believe in drinking, playing cards or dancing." She moved with her parents to Augusta, Kansas at the age of three. Madelyn was one of the best students in her high school graduating class in 1940. Despite her strict upbringing, she liked to go to Wichita, Kansas to see big band concerts. While in Wichita, she met Kansas-born Stanley Armour Dunham from the oil-town of El Dorado, Kansas and the "other side of the railroad tracks." Madelyn's parents did not approve of their marriage, which occurred on May 5, 1940.
During World War II, Stanley Dunham enlisted in the Army. Madelyn worked on a Boeing B-29 assembly line in Wichita.
After the war they lived in California,Texas, Kansas and Washington State, eventually moving to Hawaii to further Stanley's career as a furniture salesman. Stanley was said to be able to "talk the legs off a couch". Madelyn worked as a waitress and later became a bank secretary who worked her way up to the first woman vice-president of a bank in Hawaii.
Obama remembered her as "one of those quiet heroes we have across America, who aren't famous ... but each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They look after their children and their grandchildren."
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Obama and his sister said that Dunham 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. 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."
Obama and Soetoro-Ng asked that donations be made for the search for a cure for cancer in lieu of flowers. A small private ceremony will be held "at a later date."
Obama's republican rival, Sen. John McCain, issued a statement Monday afternoon:
"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."
Obama has spoken often about his grandmother -- who helped raise him -- as an integral figure in his youth and how she struggled against the glass ceiling in her career. He and his family traveled to Hawaii in August to visit her.
"She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life," he said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. "She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well."
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