Death of Marian Robinson: Michelle Obama’s mother and President Barack Obama’s mother-in-law has died at 86

CHICAGO — Marian Robinson, mother-in-law of former President Barack Obama, died Friday at the age of 86, according to family.

Robinson served in the Obama White House and lived there during his tenure to help watch over the first couple’s daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Michelle Obama said in a post on X that her mother “was the same constant garage for our whole family.”

“Her wisdom was almost innate, like something she was born with, but in reality it was hard-earned, shaped by her deep understanding that the world’s roughest edges can always be smoothed away with a little grace,” the family said in a statement.

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Marian Lois Shields would go on to study teaching before landing a job as a secretary. She married Fraiser Robinson in 1960 and the couple had two children, a son Craig in 1962 and a daughter Michelle in 1964. They raised the two children in a small apartment on Euclid Avenue.

Michelle Obama and Robinson talked about their strong bond that grew during an interview on “Good Morning America” ​​with Robin Roberts in 2022.

“Back in the day, you had a kitchen table…people would come over…and you’d have your kids. PB and J, right, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?”

“That’s her. The rest of us didn’t have PB and J, she just refused to eat anything else for breakfast,” Robinson joked.

“Okay, okay, don’t tell them all my secrets,” Michelle Obama replied.

The family said Robinson was very supportive of her daughter when she “married a guy crazy enough to go into politics.”

“Every step of the way, as our families walked down paths none of us could have foreseen, she remained our shelter from the storm, keeping our feet on solid ground. On election night in 2008, when news broke that Barack would soon be carrying the weight. in the world, she was there holding his hand,” the family said.

When Obama moved into the White House, Robinson agreed to move in after a “healthy nudge” to help raise the first couple’s daughters.

“‘Just show me how to work the washing machine and I’m good,’ she’d say,” the family said.

The family noted that Robinson tended to prefer to sit up high and not mingle with the guests who frequented the White House, with one exception: Pope Francis.

“During those eight years, she made great friends with the ushers and butlers, the people who make the White House a home. She would often sneak outside the gates to buy cards at CVS, and sometimes another customer might recognize her.’ You look like Michelle’s mother,’ they said. She would smile and say, ‘Oh, I understand a lot,’” the family said.

Robinson returned to Chicago after Obama’s second term ended and remained active in family life.

Three weeks ago, Michelle Obama posted a photo of herself and her mother on her Instagram page, celebrating Mother’s Day.

Robinson’s love and legacy extended far beyond her family.

“We’re very proud to say we were loved by her … and we consider her family,” family friend Pam Gore told ABC7 Chicago.

Nikki and Pam Gore grew up on the South Shore of Chicago’s South Side with Michelle Obama and her brother Craig, and said they will always remember Marian’s wisdom around kitchen tables.

“I hear her laugh and I hear whenever I need to hear that motherly advice, that motherly advice, I hear Marian,” Nikki Gore said.

Under the white spotlight of politics and the presidency, the Obamas said Marian was their “storm shelter.”

“100 percent of who Michelle is, is because of Marian, because Marian was so grounded,” Nikki said.

In 2022, Robinson spoke with Samantha Chatman of the ABC7 Chicago I-Team about parenthood and her children.

“I’m proud of them, but I’m proud of what’s important to them,” Robinson said in the interview. “But I think loving children is the most important thing, no matter who they are, no matter what they do.”

Robinson’s pearls of wisdom remain with Nikki and Pam Gore.

“When I make decisions in life … I always think of my mother, my mother and Mrs. Robinson,” Pam said.

Robinson’s cause of death was not immediately released.

Robinson is survived by her children, her son and daughter-in-law, and six grandchildren.

“In our sadness, we are uplifted by the extraordinary gift of her life. And we will spend the rest of our lives trying to live up to her example,” the Obamas said in a statement.

ABC7 Chicago contributed to this report.

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