Roberta McCain, mother of late Sen. John McCain, dies at 108

Roberta McCain, mother of late U.S. Sen. John McCain died at age 108 in her home in Washington, D.C., family members said Monday. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

Oct. 13 (UPI) — Roberta McCain, mother of late U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., died Monday at the age of 108, at her home in Washington, D.C., family members announced.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better role model or a better friend,” daughter-in-law Cindy McCain, widow of Sen. McCain, tweeted.

Roberta McCain, Oklahoma oil heiress and wife and daughter-in-law of two U.S. 4-star Navy Admirals, campaigned at age 96 for her son’s presidential run against Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. Roberta McCain attended the 2018 Washington, D.C., funeral of her son, Sen. John McCain, who died of cancer at age 81.

“You’re everything I ever aspired to be,” granddaughter Meghan McCain tweeted Monday “Thank you for teaching us all about living life on your own terms with grit, conviction, intensity and love.”

The television co-host of “The View,” who gave birth to her first child last month, added, “There will never be another one like you. You will be missed every day. I wish my daughter had gotten to meet you.”

An identical twin, Roberta Wright was born Feb. 7, 1912, in Muskogee, Okla., to oil wildcatting father Archibald and mother Myrtle Mae. Her twin Rowena died in 2011.

The family moved to Los Angeles when she was 12 and as a student at the University of Southern California, Roberta met and eloped with Jack McCain, a Navy officer serving aboard a battleship docked in Long Beach.

“She was a willful, rebellious girl,” Sen. John McCain wrote in his memoir, “Faith of My Fathers,” published in 1999.

The senator credited his mother’s support with his success in politics, including two presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008, two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and five Senate terms.

“In a different age, she probably would have” been a politician, John McCain said during his 2008 campaign.

Roberta and her husband raised their three children in Washington, D.C., where she pushed her husband’s naval career with lavish parties, rubbing elbows with British Earl Louis Mountbatten, millionaire industrialist J. Paul Getty, actor Bob Hope, U.S. ambassador Clare Boothe Luce and Chinese Nationalist Party leader Chiang Kai-shek and his wife.

She and her husband did not ask for special consideration or make any public statements when their son, Naval Pilot John McCain III was shot down in Vietnam in 1967 and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. But when he returned, Roberta encouraged her son to run for office, the New York Times reported.

Her husband died in 1981 and her daughter, Jean Alexandra “Sandy” Morgan, died in 2019. Survivors include her son, Joseph McCain of Washington; 10 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren.

Roberta McCain was a devotee of Chinese porcelain, and into her 90s she regularly visited an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art or the Freer Gallery of Art, according to a 2008 article in Vogue Magazine.

“Be grateful for what you’ve got and forget what you don’t have,” Roberta McCain said in a 2008 CSPAN interview. “I am so grateful for the life that we had. I can’t have a regret. I have nothing but gratitude for what God’s given me.”


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