Madelyn Dunham, the 86-year-old grandmother of Barack Obama, died today in Hawaii. Dunham raised Obama with her husband for years in Honolulu while his mother was away studying and working. From a statement just released by Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng:
It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer. 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.
Obama took time off from his campaign last week to visit Dunham, and famously mentioned her in his landmark Philadelphia speech on race. "Whatever strength, discipline that I have," Obama has said. "It comes from her."