ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller Report: A little more than a week after he visited her in Hawaii to say goodbye, Sen. Barack Obama’s grandmother died of cancer, the Democratic presidential candidate said in a Monday statement issued with his sister.
At a rally in Charlotte, N.C., a visibly moved Obama told the crowd about his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, and her death, heralding her as one of the country’s "quiet heroes".
"I’m not going to talk about it too long because it’s hard, a little, to talk about it," he said.
"She’s 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 do the right thing," Obama said.
Obama learned the news just after 8 a.m. this morning in Florida, ahead of his 11 a.m. rally in Jacksonville. His grandmother passed away in Hawaii late last night, between 4 and 5 a.m. in Florida where Sen. Obama was.
In his statement released earlier Monday evening Obama described his grandmother as "the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances. She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring. Our debt to her is beyond measure."
"Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes, and prayers during this difficult time. It brought our grandmother and us great comfort. Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to any worthy organization in search of a cure for cancer."
Republican presidential candidate John McCain offered "deepest condolences to Barack Obama and his family as they grieve the loss of their beloved grandmother."
In a statement issued with his wife, McCain said, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives."
At his Charlotte rally, Obama acknowledged the condolence message from the McCain’s, describing John and Cindy McCain as "extraordinarily gracious".
The Obama campaign plans for all events to continue as scheduled.