At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, in Honolulu Friday, at a memorial service for friends and co-workers, President-elect Obama’s grandmother Madelyn Dunham — who died the Sunday night before her grandson was elected president — was eulogized as a strong woman.
There will be a private memorial for family members later this year.
Obama and his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng sent a letter read by Al Landon, chief executive officer of the Bank of Hawaii, where Dunham had worked. Using the Hawaiian word for grandmother — "Tutu" — Obama and Soetoro-Ng wrote, "When Tutu found out that she had little time remaining, she insisted that we dispense with excessive solemnity or sorrow. She was not afraid of any storm and withstood many in her 86 years. We feel fortunate to have had so much time with our Tutu. She spent more time raising us than did most grandmothers and we benefited from her closeness; we are stronger and wiser because of her."
She "taught us to be mindful and moderate, to be patient when calm was warranted and to act when action was necessary," Landon read. "She liked playing bridge, a good mystery novel, jigsaw puzzles and an annual cruise.
"She was fiercely loyal and protective of those whom she loved and had little patience for foolishness," said the letter. "She motivated us to work harder and to take pride in our work, irrespective of salary or prestige."
You can read more about her at the Honolulu Advertiser HERE.
Master of ceremonies Emme Tomimbang said of President-elect Obama, "It broke his heart not to be here. Even though Barack and Maya couldn’t be here physically, they were here in spirit. In fact, they both helped put this together."
Dunham was cremated, but it’s not yet clear what will become of her ashes. After his mother’s death in 1995, President-elect Obama scattered her ashes from an Oahu shoreline.