Madelyn Dunham


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Total Number of Gifts: 4
Total Value of Gifts: $80.00

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Madelyn Dunham (October 26, 1922 - November 2, 2008)


Madelyn Lee Payne was born in Peru, Kansas, the daughter of Rolla Charles and Leona (McCurry) Payne. She recalled them as "stern Methodist parents who did not believe in drinking, playing cards or dancing." She moved with her parents to Augusta, Kansas at age of three. Madelyn was one of the best students in her high school graduating class in 1940. Despite her strict upbringing, she liked to go to Wichita, Kansas to see big band concerts. While in Wichita, she met Kansas-born Stanley Armour Dunham.


Madelyn gave birth to a daughter they named Stanley Ann, who was later known as Ann, in Fort Leavenworth on November 29, 1942. With Madelyn and Stanley both working full-time, the family moved to California, Kansas, Texas, and finally settled in Seattle, Washington (on Mercer Island), where Ann graduated from high school. In El Dorado, Kansas, Stanley had managed a furniture store while Madelyn worked in restaurants. In Seattle, Stanley worked in a bigger furniture store (Standard-Grunbaum Furniture) while Madelyn eventually became vice-president of a local bank. While in Washington she attended the University of Washington. She later would also attend classes at the University of California, Berkeley.


Madelyn and Stanley then moved to Hawaii, where he found a better furniture store opportunity. She started working at the Bank of Hawaii in 1960 and was promoted to be one of the first female bank vice presidents in 1970.


US Senator Presidential candidate Barack Obama, Jr. lived with his grandparents beginning in 1977. Obama and his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng refer to Madelyn Dunham as "Toot" -- short for "tutu," the Hawaiian word for grandmother. In his book, Obama described his grandmother as "quiet yet firm", in contrast to Obama's "boisterous" grandfather Stanley. Obama considered his grandmother "a trailblazer of sorts, the first woman vice-president of a local bank." Her colleagues recall her as a "tough boss" who would make you "sink or swim", but who had a "soft spot for those willing to work hard." She retired from the Bank of Hawaii in 1986.


On November 3, 2008 (November 2, Hawaiian Time), the Obama campaign announced that Madelyn Dunham had "died peacefully after a battle with cancer" in Hawaii. "She was the cornterstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength and humility."