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We are sad to report that Marian Robinson, the mother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, has passed away at the age of 86.

The news was confirmed in a family statement provided to news outlets, including NBC News.

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

“We Needed Her…”

Robinson was a quiet fixture in the White House throughout her son-in-law Barack Obama’s eight years in office. Robinson moved from her native Chicago in 2009 to help take care of her granddaughters, Malia and Sasha. She mostly kept a low profile, but was seen with the family occasionally during holiday events and occasional trips.


Source: SAUL LOEB / Getty

In an interview with CBS, Robinson spoke of her decision to move to D.C. “I felt like this was going to be a very hard life for both of them,” she said. “And I was worried about their safety, and I was worried about my grandkids. That’s what got me to move to D.C.”

The sentiment was echoed in the family statement:

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

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.

A Mother’s Love

The country witnessed the special bond that Robinson shared with her family over the years… especially the bond she shared with her daughter.

Robinson narrated her daughter’s introduction at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Robinson also shared a saying after the Obamas left the White House: “My saying is when I grow up, I would like to be like Michelle Obama.”

Just recently, Michelle paid tribute on Mother’s Day by announcing that she will be naming an exhibit in Robinson’s honor at the Obama Presidential Center Museum in Chicago.

“In so many ways she fostered in me a deep sense of confidence in who I was and who I could be by teaching me how to think for myself, how to use my own voice, and how to understand my own worth,” the former first lady said in a video announcement. “I simply wouldn’t be who I am today without my mom.”

The family statement concluded:

There was and will be only one Marian Robinson. 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.

In addition to the Obama family, Robinson is survived by her son, Craig Robinson, his wife Kelly, and four children. She is preceded in death by her husband, Fraser Robinson III, who died in 1991.

Marian Robinson, Mother of Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Passes Away  was originally published on