John McCain's 106-year-old mother Roberta to attend late senator's funeral

Ms McCain to attend both funeral and burial despite recent stroke

Emily Shugerman
New York
Thursday 30 August 2018 18:12
Roberta McCain has died at age 108.
Roberta McCain has died at age 108.

John McCain’s 106-year-old mother, Roberta McCain, is expected to attend the upcoming Washington memorial service for her son, who died last week of brain cancer.

Though slowed by a recent stroke, Ms McCain will attend Saturday’s service, as well as Sunday's burial at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland – a familiar location for Ms McCain, who saw both her husband and middle child serve in the US Navy.

Ms McCain was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1912 – two years before the start of the First World War, and decades before the Vietnam War, which would hold her son captive for more than five years. She met her husband, John McCain Jr, as a student at the University of Southern California, and eloped with him to Mexico in 1933.

Ms McCain spent most of her life traversing the US with her admiral husband, moving the family from Hawaii, to Connecticut, to Virginia, and several other places in between. With the elder Mr McCain travelling frequently, Ms McCain took the lead in raising her son – whom she called “Johnny” – and his older sister and younger brother.

The family received a shock in 1967, when they learned that McCain’s plane had disappeared during a bombing mission in Vietnam. They later learned he had been taken prisoner of war, and would not be released until 1973.

Ms McCain would later become a fixture in her son’s 2008 presidential campaign, giving frequent speeches at his rallies. In his memoir, Faith of My Fathers, McCain described his mother as an “extroverted and irrepressible woman”.

"My mother was raised to be a strong, determined woman who thoroughly enjoyed life, and always tried to make the most of her opportunities,” he wrote. “...I am grateful to her for the strengths she taught me by example."

AP contributed to this report

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