Obama's beloved grandmother dies one day before election - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Obama's beloved grandmother dies one day before election

Rep. Neil Abercrombie Rep. Neil Abercrombie
Nicole Musetti Nicole Musetti
Timothy Macmaster Timothy Macmaster

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A sad day on the campaign trail, as Sen. Barack Obama loses his beloved grandmother a day before the Presidential election.

Madelyn Dunham had been battling cancer, and died in her Honolulu apartment early Monday morning. She was 86.

He called her Toot and credited her with making him who he is today. Now, Sen. Barack Obama's guiding light is gone.

"She was one of those quiet heroes we have all across America who, they're not famous, their names are not in the newspaper, but every day they work hard," the Democratic Presidential hopeful said.

Madelyn Dunham died peacefully in her apartment with Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, at her side. The 86-year-old had helped raise Obama.

"She gave him everything and he's aware of that," Rep. Neil Abercrombie, (D) Hawaii, said with tears welling in his eyes and his voice cracking. "And, and I'm sure that's going to give him strength tomorrow."

When his grandmother's health began to decline, the Presidential candidate took a break from campaigning to spend time with her. He arrived on Oahu October 23rd for a 22-hour stay.

"He knew that this would be the final time in all likelihood that they would be able to see one another, speak with one another," Abercrombie said.

News of her death spread quickly.

"Oh my God, the day before the election," Nicole Musetti, Honolulu resident, said. "Oh my goodness. Well, my heart goes out to him."

"What a terrible, bittersweet experience this must be for him to be doing so well on the eve of the election and then to have to deal with the death of someone who was so close to him," Timothy Macmaster, Nuuanu Valley resident, said.

Obama and his sister released a statement:

"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 never a good thing," Delphine Mossman, Kahaluu resident and Obama supporter, said about Dunham's death. "But it's just sad that it's before she got to see him win."

Abercrombie says Borthwick Mortuary in Honolulu is handling the arrangements for the services, which will be private.

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