Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s Mother, Dies at 86

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But Mrs. Robinson stayed much the same. “Just show me how to work the washing machine and I’m good,” she said after moving to the White House, the Obamas said in their statement on Friday.

According to the family statement, which was signed by Mrs. Obama, Mr. Obama, Mrs. Obama’s brother Craig Robinson, his wife Kelly and their children, Mrs. Robinson was never fully comfortable with the trappings of the White House, and much preferred to take her dinner on a TV tray in her third-floor suite in the White House residence. (“The only guest she made a point of asking to meet was the Pope,” the family said.) Mrs. Robinson’s survivors include Mr. and Mrs. Obama, Craig and Kelly Robinson, and six grandchildren. Her husband, Fraser Robinson III, died in 1991.

Mrs. Robinson’s move to Washington, in January 2009, was said at first to be temporary to help her daughter and granddaughters adjust. At the time, she was hesitant to commit to a life in a new city, inside an isolating bubble, but even as she resisted, she revealed some of the resolve — and the wry sense of humor — that she had worked to instill in her children.

“In the end, in the end, I’ll do whatever,” she told reporters at the time. “I might fuss a little, but I’ll be there.”

Indeed, in the end, Mrs. Robinson resided in that suite for most of the eight years Mr. Obama was in office. While in Washington, she continued many of the duties she’d started during the first Obama presidential campaign, which included enforcing bedtimes for her granddaughters, running their baths and making sure they got to school on time. She eventually adjusted, attending events at the Kennedy Center, hosting friends from Chicago and, only occasionally, hiring a babysitter to help watch the girls.



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