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Barack Obama's grandmother dies less than two days before the election

November 3, 2008 |  2:03 pm

Barack Obama and his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died on Sunday at the age of 86[Update below]

Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died late Sunday night after a battle with cancer, his campaign announced today.

She was 86. 

According to Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki, Dunham died at her home in Hawaii between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Eastern Time this morning. Obama found out about her death a little after 8 a.m. this morning, Psaki said.

Dunham had been ill for some time. In late October, Obama took time off of the campaign trail to visit her in Hawaii. Dunham helped raise Obama from the age of 10 while his mother was working in Indonesia.

Here is the statement from Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, that the Obama campaign released to the media today:

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.

Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes, and prayers during this difficult time. It brought our grandmother and us great comfort. Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to any worthy organization in search of a cure for cancer.

We will post more news on Dunham's death as it comes.


At a speech in North Carolina Monday evening, Obama wiped away tears as he spoke about his grandmother. "She was one of those quiet heroes who we have all across America," he said. "In this crowd there are a lot of quiet heroes like that."

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Obama with his maternal grandparents at his high school graduation in 1979. Credit: The Obama campaign, via Associated Press.