Sen. John McCain’s mother Roberta, who joined him on the 2008 campaign trail aged 96, has died at the of age 108, it was announced Monday.
John’s wife Cindy tweeted: ‘It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my wonderful Mother In-law, Roberta McCain.
‘I couldn’t have asked for a better role model or a better friend. She joins her husband Jack, her son John and daughter Sandy.’
Her granddaughter Meghan McCain, who recently gave birth to her first child, tweeted: ‘I love you Nana. You’re everything I ever aspired to be. Thank you for teaching us all about living life on your own terms with grit, conviction, intensity and love.
‘There will never be another one like you, you will be missed every day. I wish my daughter had gotten to meet you.’
A cause of death was not immediately released.
John McCain’s mother Roberta has died at the of age 108, it was announced Monday
Roberta McCain, right, mother of then Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, left, speaks at the NBC Studios May 13, 2007 in Washington, DC
John’s wife Cindy announced the news in a tweet Monday afternoon
Her granddaughter Meghan McCain paid this tribute to her ‘nana’
Roberta McCain was born in Oklahoma in 1912 and was among the mourners at her son John’s funeral at Washington’s National Cathedral in 2018.
She was seen comforting her granddaughter Meghan after Vietnam War hero John died on August 25 at the age of 81.
At 96, Roberta McCain became the Republican senator´s secret weapon at campaign stops as evidence that voters need not worry about her son´s age – past 70 – as he sought the presidency.
She remained energetic and active into her 90s, traveling often with her identical twin sister Rowena, who died at age 99.
She attended the 2008 Republican National Convention, where her son credited ‘her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her belief we are all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country. I wouldn´t be here tonight but for the strength of her character.’
Roberta McCain arrives for the memorial service of her son U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) at National Cathedral in Washington, U.S., September 1, 2018
Roberta gave birth to John in 1936, after marrying Navy admiral John McCain Jr. – one of a line of distinguished naval officers – in 1933.
A 20-year-old Roberta Wright defied her family and eloped with John McCain Jr. Documents released in 2008 showed that as a young ensign, John Jr. got into trouble when the couple decided to marry and he left his ship without permission.
‘I got married young,’ she told The Muskogee Phoenix in her native Oklahoma in 2008. ‘I was 20 years old, and it was the best decision I ever made.’
As well as John she had another son, Joe, and daughter, Sandy and has 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Her husband John Jr. died in 1981 while her twin sister, Rowena, died at the age of 99 in 2011.
Senator John McCain, right, hugs his mother, Roberta McCain, left, after accepting his party’s nomination as President, on day 4 of the 2008 Republican National Convention in 2008
Meghan McCain, bottom right, with her grandmother Roberta. John McCain, who died last August, is top right with his Republican Senate colleague Lindsey Graham, top left
She married into a storied military family – her husband retired in 1972 with the rank of four-star admiral, the same rank held by his father, John S. ‘Slew’ McCain Sr. Her son was later held as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam even as his father was commander in chief of Pacific forces by the late 1960s.
Roberta McCain also was a young mother when her three children were born, later telling the Oklahoma paper that she was ‘too young and irresponsible to know you were supposed to worry about them. I just let them go. I got a kick out of watching them.’
The senator, who died in 2018, said in 2008 that his ‘father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister and me would fall to my mother alone.’
Her other son, Joe, told The Associated Press in 2007 that the family had endless dinner-table discussions about history, politics and legislation led by their mother.
‘We were all basically on the same side of the fence,’ Joe McCain said. ‘But it was like Talmudic scholars arguing about a single word or an adjective in the Testament.’
Roberta McCain makes the sign of the cross next to the casket bearing the remains of her son
John McCain was captured in Vietnam in 1967 and was taken prisoner after his plane was shot down.
He refused an early release, knowing it would give North Vietnam a propaganda victory and demoralize U.S. troops if an admiral’s son was let out early.
When Sen. John McCain wrote a memoir about his experience as a POW for nearly six years in a north Vietnamese prison, he described times when he swore in English at his Vietnamese guards, who didn´t understand.
His mother later told him: ‘Johnny, I´m going to come over there and wash your mouth out with soap.’
After two terms in the House of Representatives, McCain won a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona in 1986 and held it for the rest of his life.
He ran for President in 2000 and 2008, becoming Republican nominee at the second attempt but losing the general election to Barack Obama.
In a gracious concession speech he praised Obama for ‘achieving a great thing for himself and for his country’ with his historic victory.
In the Senate he became known as a ‘maverick’ willing to break with his party and in the last years of his life he frequently clashed with Donald Trump, who did not attend his funeral.
John McCain and his mother Roberta McCain; John McCain was captured in Vietnam in 1967 and was taken prisoner after his plane was shot down. He refused an early release, knowing it would give North Vietnam a propaganda victory and demoralize U.S. troops
Roberta McCain, right, with her husband Admiral John McCain Jr, left, at a London airport in July 1968
Roberta’s granddaughter, Meghan McCain, recalled her strong will and sense of duty in a 2012 column for The Daily Beast website, writing that she did not have ‘a lot of patience for excuses, especially from my father when he was growing up and acting out.’
‘She once hit him over the head with a thermos in the back of a car because he was acting up so badly on a road trip,’ wrote Meghan.
The McCain matriarch´s spunky personality became the stuff of stories for the family – and among those in their circle of Washington society.
‘Last Christmas, she wanted to drive around France. So she flew to Paris and tried to rent a car,’ the senator once joked. ‘They said she was too old, so she bought one and drove around France.’
Roberta Wright was born February 7, 1912, in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where her father was a businessman whose varied, colorful enterprises included bootlegging and oil wildcatting. The family moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1920s.
Her husband commanded submarines in World War II and was second in command of the cruiser St. Paul during the Korean War. He later held key posts including the Navy´s chief of congressional liaison, and died in 1981.
In 1934, when a fitness report deemed him underweight, the future admiral wrote: ‘My wife doesn´t know how to cook, and my meals are very irregular.’