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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama walk across the South Lawn after returning to the White House on Marine One July 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Obamas were returning from Dallas where they attended a public memorial service for the five Dallas police officers who were killed by a sniper last week during a Black Lives Matter demonstration.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)© Chip Somodevilla

Barack and Michelle Obama share devastating news: 'We're heartbroken'

Marian, 86, was mom to Michelle and brother Craig

Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
Los Angeles correspondentLos Angeles
May 31, 2024
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Michelle Obama's beloved mother Marian has died at the age of 86.

“As a sister, aunt, cousin, neighbor, and friend to so many, she was beloved beyond words by countless others whose lives were improved by her presence,” the statement from Barack and Michelle Obama, Michelle's brother Craig and his wife Kelly, and their children, said in part.

“She passed peacefully this morning, and right now, none of us are quite sure how exactly we’ll move on without her."

Marian Robinson© AP
Marian Robinson

Michelle later posted a tribute to Marian, whom she called her "rock," writing on social media: "My mom Marian Robinson was my rock, always there for whatever I needed. She was the same steady backstop for our entire family, and we are heartbroken to share she passed away today. 

"We wanted to offer some reflections on her remarkable life." 

View post on Instagram
 

The carousel featured a beautiful picture of Marian in recent years, and went on to feature an obituary written by Michelle and her husband Barack, and their two daughters Malia and Sasha, and Michelle's brother Craig and his wife Kelly, and their children, Avery,  Leslie, Austin, and Aaron. 

Reflecting on her childhood in Chicago, it read: "Her father, because of the color of his skin, wasn’t allowed to join a union or work for larger construction firms, and he grew mistrustful of a world that seemed to have little place for him. Yet many mornings, he would wake the kids up at sunrise by blasting jazz records as an alarm clock. She learned early that even in the face of hardship, there was music to be found."

US President Barack Obama (L), First Lady Michelle Obama (2-R), her mother Marian Robinson and daughter Sasha (R) walk to their limousine upon their arrival in Bariloche, Argentina on March 24, 2016© NICHOLAS KAMM
US President Barack Obama (L), First Lady Michelle Obama (2-R), her mother Marian Robinson and daughter Sasha (R) walk to their limousine upon their arrival in Bariloche, Argentina on March 24, 2016

Marion raised Michelle and Craig, "giving them the strength and confidence to walk to school — and out into the world — all on their own," with her husband Fraser Robinson, and when Barack and Michelle moved to the White House in January 2009, she moved with them.

"We needed her. The girls needed her. And she ended up being our rock through it all," they said. 

"She relished her role as a grandmother. ... And although she enforced whatever household rules we’d set for bedtime, watching TV, or eating candy, she made clear that she sided with her 'grandbabies' in thinking that their parents were too darn strict." 

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama, and Marian Shields Robinson attend TNT Christmas in Washington 2014 © Kevin Mazur
President Obama, Michelle, Sasha, Malia, and Marian attend TNT Christmas in Washington 2014

However, despite the many glamorous and notable guests who may be in attendance at any given moment, "she preferred spending her time upstairs with a TV tray, in the room outside her bedroom with big windows that looked out at the Washington Monument," the family continued of Marian.

"The only guest she made a point of asking to meet was the Pope."

The daughters of U.S. President Barack Obama, Sasha Obama (L) and Malia Obama (C) and mother-in-law Marian Robinson at  his 2013 inauguration© Rob Carr
The daughters of U.S. President Barack Obama, Sasha (L) and Malia (C) and mother-in-law Marian at his 2013 inauguration

It went on to share some of her favorite sayings, including 'Don't sweat the small stuff,' and 'Know what's truly precious,' and concluded: "In our sadness, we are lifted up by the extraordinary gift of her life. And we will spend the rest of ours trying to live up to her example."

Mr Obama tweeted on his personal X account that "there was and will be only one Marian Robinson”.

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

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