Madelyn Dunham, the grandmother who was the anchor in the life of the child that was Barack Obama, died today just hours before polling stations opened in America's historic election.
"It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer," Obama said in a joint statement with his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng.
"She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength and humility."
Dunham, 86, had been in poor health for the duration of Obama's campaign - though he has often said that she followed politics avidly.
Just two weeks ago, her grandson took a break from campaigning to visit her at her modest apartment block in central Honolulu after she fell and broke her hip.
Some had seen the hiatus at such a critical time as a political risk to Obama, but the Democrat said that one of his greatest regrets was his failure to be with his mother when she was dying of ovarian cancer.
He also admitted then he was not sure that his grandmother would live to see election day.
I'd like to think that she died with the peace and assurance in her heart that her grandson will win the election on Tuesday. The Obama family has asked that in lieu of flowers, people wishing to pay their respects donate in Dunham's name "to any worthy organization in search for a cure for cancer."
UPDATED: Obama spoke about his grandmother in North Carolina this evening:
Obviously, this is a little bit of a bittersweet time for me. We have had a remarkable campaign. And, you know, when we started 21 months ago, I didn't know how it would turn out. And no matter what happens tomorrow, I'm going to feel good about how its turned out because all of you have created this incredible campaign. Some of you have heard that my grandmother who helped raise me passed away early this morning. And look, she has gone home. And she died peacefully in her sleep. With my sister at her side. And so there is great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because its hard, a little, to talk about.
I want everybody to know, though, a little bit about her. Her name was Madelyn Dunham. She was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922. Which means that she lived through the Great Depression, she lived through two World Wars, she watched her husband go off to war while she looked after a baby and worked on a bomber assembly line. When her husband came back, they benefited from the GI Bill and they moved West and eventually ended up in Hawaii. And she was somebody who was a very humble person and a very plainspoken person.
She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America who, they're not famous, their names aren't in the newspapers, but each and every day, they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing. And in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that. Mothers and fathers, grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives. And the satisfaction that they get is seeing that their children and maybe their grandchildren, or their great grandchildren, live a better life than they did. That's what America is about. That's what we're fighting for. And North Carolina, in just one more day, we have the opportunity to honor all those quiet heroes all across America, and all across North Carolina. To bring change to America to make sure that their work and their sacrifice is honored. That's what we're fighting for.