The mother of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose triumph over childhood abandonment proved a lasting inspiration to the chief US diplomat, has died at the age of 92.
Dorothy Rodham, who was born in Chicago on June 4, 1919, died shortly after midnight on Tuesday surrounded by her family, the family said in a brief statement.
Clinton was preparing to travel to conferences in London and Istanbul late Tuesday when State Department officials announced she had canceled the trip due to her mother’s illness.
“Her story was a quintessentially American one, largely because she wrote it herself,” the statement said without giving the cause of death.
“She overcame abandonment and hardship as a young girl to become the remarkable woman she was — a warm, generous and strong woman; an intellectual; a woman who told a great joke and always got the joke; an extraordinary friend and, most of all, a loving wife, mother and grandmother.”
Rodham is known as being media-shy but in December 2007 she made a rare public appearance in Iowa to campaign for her daughter’s presidential nomination bid.
In a debate during the campaign, Clinton said she drew inspiration from her mother.
“I owe it to my mother, who never got a chance to go to college, who had a very difficult childhood, but who gave me a belief that I could do whatever I set my mind,” Clinton said.
President Barack Obama, who beat Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination, paid tribute to Clinton’s mother in the Oval Office.
“Miss Rodham was a remarkable person. Anybody who knows her history knows what a strong, determined and gifted person she was,” Obama told reporters.
“For her to have been able to live the life that she did and to see her daughter succeed at the pinnacle of public service in this country, I am sure was deeply satisfying to her,” he said.
“My thoughts and Michelle’s thoughts and the entire White House’s thoughts go out to the entire Clinton family,” Obama added.
“I know that she will be remembered as someone who helped make a difference in this country and this world,” the president said.
The family planned a private celebration of Dorothy Rodham’s life and asked that instead of flowers, well-wishers send donations to the George Washington Hospital, the Heifer Project — which seeks to end world hunger — or to charities for neglected and mistreated children.