Just one day shy of this year’s historical election, Senator Barack Obama’s grandmother has passed away:
Madelyn Payne Dunham, Senator Barack Obama’s maternal grandmother, died in Honolulu early this morning. She was 86 and had been suffering from cancer. Dunham helped raise the Democratic presidential nominee and frequently was cited in his speeches as an inspiration. Two weeks ago Obama took a day off from his campaign to visit the ailing woman he called Toot — a form of Tutu, which means “grandparent” in Hawaiian.
Dunham died between 3 and 4 a.m. Hawaii time, with Obama’s half sister Maya Soetoro-Ng at her side. Media outlets reported that Obama learned of the death shortly after 8 a.m. today in Jacksonville, Fla.
A statement released this afternoon by Obama and Soetoro-Ng said, “She 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.”
“It’s very, very sad, because we all hoped that she would be able to sustain her strength through Election Day itself,” said Hawaii Democratic Representative Neil Abercrombie, a family friend. “She passed away confident that he would succeed … His strength, his calm demeanor that characterized him in these last weeks and last days — this quiet strength that come across so clearly — that comes from his grandmother; there’s no question about that. It’s her great legacy. (Source)
The Democratic Presidential nominee paid an emotional tribute to his late Grandmother today during a rally in Charlotte, NC: