A Life of Love and Strength: Remembering Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s Mother

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Marian Robinson, the cherished mother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, has passed away at the age of 86. The news was shared through a heartfelt statement by the Obama and Robinson families, expressing their deep sorrow and immense gratitude for the life she lived.

“As a sister, aunt, cousin, neighbor, and friend to so many, she was beloved beyond words by countless others whose lives were improved by her presence,” read the statement from Barack and Michelle Obama, Craig and Kelly Robinson, and their children. “She passed peacefully this morning, and right now, none of us are quite sure how exactly we’ll move on without her.”

M. Spencer Green / AP file

Michelle Obama took to social media to honor her mother, writing, “My mom Marian Robinson was my rock, always there for whatever I needed. She was the same steady backstop for our entire family, and we are heartbroken to share she passed away today.”

Barack Obama also shared his tribute on X, saying, “There was and will be only one Marian Robinson. In our sadness, we are lifted up by the extraordinary gift of her life. And we will spend the rest of ours trying to live up to her example.”

Marian Robinson’s presence was a constant source of strength for the Obama family. She lived with them during their time in the White House, often seen at family events and even handing out goodie bags to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. “We needed her. The girls needed her,” the family’s statement said of her move to Washington. “And she ended up being our rock through it all.”

A Life Rooted in Chicago and Marked by Historic Moments

Born and raised in Chicago, Robinson returned to her hometown after the Obamas left the White House. She was married to Fraser Robinson, who passed away in 1991 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. Together, they raised two children, Michelle and Craig, instilling in them a love for learning and resilience. The family fondly recalled how she taught her children to read at an early age, giving them the confidence to face the world.

Robinson’s role in historic moments was also highlighted. On Election Night in 2008, as Barack Obama prepared to take on the presidency, she was there, holding his hand. David Axelrod, former senior adviser to Obama, remembered her as “just a great lady,” describing her as a true South Sider who never sought the limelight. Axelrod recalled her often slipping out of the White House to visit friends, avoiding the celebrity lifestyle.


Years after the Obamas’ portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in 2018, Michelle Obama shared a poignant memory of her mother’s reaction upon seeing her portrait. “Watching my mom, Marian Robinson, sit at the base of my portrait and look up at it with such a level of awe meant the world to me,” she said.

Marian Robinson’s legacy is one of love, strength, and unwavering support. As the Obama and Robinson families navigate this profound loss, they carry with them the enduring impact of her remarkable life.

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