Roberta McCain, John McCain's Mother, Dies at 108

Roberta McCain, mother of former Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.), smiles during a rally in Downingtown, Penn., October 16, 2008. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Roberta McCain, the 108-year-old mother of the late Senator John McCain, has died, her family said Monday.

Her daughter-in-law Cindy McCain announced the news on Twitter on Monday afternoon, saying, “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.”

A spokesperson for Cindy McCain said Roberta McCain died Monday, though a cause of death was not immediately released, the Associated Press reported. 

Roberta McCain was perhaps best known for her spirited attitude when, at 96 years old, she accompanied her son on the 2008 presidential campaign trail.

News of the McCain family matriarch’s death comes nearly two years after Senator John McCain died of brain cancer in 2018. 

Meghan McCain, in a post on Twitter, said there would “never be another one” like her grandmother.

“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,” she said.

The senator wrote in one of his books that his mother “was raised to be a strong, determined woman who thoroughly enjoyed life, and always tried to make the most of her opportunities.”

“I am grateful to her for the strengths she taught me by example,” he wrote.

Born Roberta Wright in Muskogee, Okla., McCain was just 20 years old in 1933 when she ran off to Tijuana, Mexico to marry John S. McCain Jr., then a young sailor. The couple later had three children: Jean, John and Joseph.

She once told the local paper that as a young mother 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.”

In a memoir about his experience as a prisoner of war for almost six years in a north Vietnamese prison, John McCain wrote about instances where he swore in English at his Vietnamese guards, who didn’t understand, to which his mother later said: “Johnny, I’m going to come over there and wash your mouth out with soap.”

In a 2012 column for the Daily Beast, Meghan McCain wrote that her grandmother 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,” she wrote.

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