Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s Mother, Dies At 86

Mrs. Marian Shields Robinson, the mother of former US First Lady, Michelle Obama, who moved with the first family to the White House when son-in-law Barack Obama was elected president, has died. 

She died at age 86, The Guardian reports.

Robinson’s death was announced in an online tribute by Michelle Obama. It included details of Robinson’s time living in the White House, as an informal first grandmother to the Obama children.

“There was and will be only one Marian Robinson,” the statement said. “In our sadness, we are lifted up by the extraordinary gift of her life.”

She was a widow and lifelong Chicago resident when she moved to the executive mansion in 2009 to help care for granddaughters Malia and Sasha. 

In her early 70s, Robinson initially resisted the idea of starting over in Washington, and Michelle Obama had to enlist her brother, Craig, to help persuade their mother to 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,” Robinson wrote in the foreword to A Game of Character, a memoir by her son, formerly the head men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University.

“My feeling, however, was that I could visit periodically without actually moving in and still be there for the girls,” she said.

Robinson wrote that her son understood why she wanted to stay in Chicago but still used a line of reasoning on her that she often used on him and his sister. He asked her to see the move as a chance to grow and try something new. As a compromise, she agreed to move, at least temporarily.

Granddaughters Malia and Sasha were just 10 and seven when the White House became home in 2009. Robinson had become almost a surrogate parent to the girls in Chicago during the 2008 presidential campaign. She retired from her job as a bank secretary to help shuttle them around.

At the White House, Robinson provided a reassuring presence for the girls as their parents settled into their new roles, and her lack of Secret Service protection made it possible for her to accompany them to and from school daily without fanfare.


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