Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson dies aged 86

Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson dies aged 86

Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson has died at the age of 86, the former US first lady has announced.

Known as ‘First Grandma’ during the eight year Barack Obama administration, Ms Robinson was close to her son-in-law and looked after the couple’s children.

A statement released on behalf of the family said she died on Friday morning.

Michelle Obama wrote on Instagram: “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 that she passed away today.”

Ms Robinson married her husband Fraser, who died in 1991, in 1960 and the pair had Michelle in 1964 and her brother Craig two years earlier.

After some persuasion, she moved into the White House in 2009 to be with the family but was a Chicago native and it was in the US’s second city that she died.

“There was and will be only one Marian Robinson,” the statement said. “In our sadness, we are lifted up by the extraordinary gift of her life.”

Marian Robinson with the family in 2015 (AP)
Marian Robinson with the family in 2015 (AP)

At the White House, she was a reassuring presence, and her lack of Secret Service protection made it possible for her to accompany them to and from school.

"I would not be who I am today without the steady hand and unconditional love of my mother, Marian Shields Robinson," Michelle Obama wrote in her memoir.

"She has always been my rock, allowing me the freedom to be who I am, while never allowing my feet to get too far off the ground.

“Her boundless love for my girls, and her willingness to put our needs before her own, gave me the comfort and confidence to venture out into the world knowing they were safe and cherished at home."

Her White House life was not limited to caring for her granddaughters.

Mrs Robinson enjoyed a level of anonymity that the president and first lady openly envied, allowing her to come and go from the White House as often as she pleased on shopping trips around town, to the president's box at the Kennedy Centre and to Las Vegas or to visit her other grandchildren in Portland, Oregon. She gave a few media interviews but never to White House press.

She attended some White House events, including concerts, the annual Easter Egg Roll and National Christmas Tree lighting, and was a guest at some state dinners.