Marian Robinson dies at 86; Michelle Obama’s mother lived with first family at White House

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) waves as he arrives with his daughters Sasha (4th L) and Malia (L), mother-in-law Marian Robinson (3rd L), and first lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) at the 2010 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony December 9, 2010 at the Ellipse, south of the White House, in Washington, DC. The first family participated in the annual ceremony to kick off the 2010 National Christmas Tree Festival. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Darlene Superville | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Marian Shields Robinson, the mother of Michelle Obama who moved with the first family to the White House when son-in-law Barack Obama was elected president, has died. She was 86.

Mrs. Robinson’s death was announced by Michelle Obama and other family members in a statement that said “there was and will be only one Marian Robinson. 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, Mrs. 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,” Mrs. 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.

Mrs. 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.

The first family — daughter Malia Obama, from left; first lady Michelle Obama; Michelle’s mom, Marian Robinson; daughter Sasha Obama; and President Barack Obama — take part in the  2010 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images Archives)

Granddaughters Malia and Sasha were just 10 and 7, respectively, when the White House became home in 2009. In Chicago, Mrs. Robinson had become almost a surrogate parent to the girls during the 2008 presidential campaign. She retired from her job as a bank secretary to help shuttle them around.

At the White House, Mrs. 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.

“I would not be who I am today without the steady hand and unconditional love of my mother, Marian Shields Robinson,” Michelle Obama wrote in her 2018 memoir, “Becoming.” “She has always been my rock, allowing me the freedom to be who I am, while never allowing my feet to get too far off the ground. Her boundless love for my girls, and her willingness to put our needs before her own, gave me the comfort and confidence …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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