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September 24, 2016

Ann Dunham (Obama’s Mother)

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Ann Dunham Soetoro was born on November 19th, 1942 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She is the mother of President Barack Obama.

Born with the name Stanley, she had a very mixed heritage: English, Irish, Dutch, French, and German. A distant cousin of both Vice President Dick Cheney and President Harry S. Truman, she moved with her family to California, Texas, and Seattle, Washington after the end of World War II. In 1956, her family moved to Mercer Island, Washington where Dunham attended Mercer Island High School.

After she graduated from high school in 1960, her family moved to Hawaii where Dunham would enroll in the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She would meet Barack Obama senior there and marry him on February 2nd, 1961. She was already three months pregnant at the time of the marriage with their son, Barack Obama II. Unbeknownst to her, she was his second wife and would not find out until a later time. In 1964, after Dunham filed for divorce from Obama Sr. and it was granted.

In 1967, she married Lolo Soetoro, who she met at the University of Hawaii campus. Together they had a daughter in 1970, Maya Kassandra Soetoro. As he wanted more children and she wanted to work, issues began to arise in the marriage. They divorced in 1980.

Dunham returned to Indonesia in 1977 for fieldwork, but only Maya decided to come with her as Barack wanted to finish high school in the United States.

In 1992, she received a Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  She went on to work in rural development, including working with The United States Agency for International Development, Women’s World Banking, and the Ford Foundation.

Dunham was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and uterine cancer in 1994. She passed away in 1995 at the age of 52. Her two children would spread her ashes in the Pacific Ocean at Lanai Lookout on the south side of O’ahu.

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