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Ann Dunham was the mother of Barack Obama, who became the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to hold this office.
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Ann Dunham (born November 29, 1942) met Kenyan national Barack Obama, Sr. while at the University of Hawaii and married him after she became pregnant. They later divorced and she cared for her son while juggling a full college course load. She went on to perform doctoral fieldwork in Indonesia, and became an activist and social scientist. She died of cancer on November 7, 1995 at the age of 52.
Activist and social scientist Stanley Ann Dunham was born on November 29, 1942, in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to parents Madelyn and Stanley Dunham. Madelyn was the first female vice president of a local bank, and Stanley was an army veteran and furniture salesman.
Stanley Ann Dunham was named after her father who had always wanted a son. In spite of being teased about her name, Stanley Ann was a resilient and liberal minded daughter. During her formative years, she and her parents relocated between Kansas, California, Texas, and Washington. After high school, Stanley Dunham moved the family to Honolulu despite his daughter's early acceptance to the University of Chicago. After enrolling in the University of Hawaii, Stanley Ann began going simply by "Ann."
It was in a college language class that Ann Dunham met Barack H. Obama, Sr. He was a Kenyan national recruited overseas on a college scholarship, and was reputed to be an opinionated, magnetic debater. He and Dunham soon began dating. Several months later, Dunham became pregnant. She and Barack were married in a private ceremony on February 2, 1961. On August 4, 1961, Ann gave birth to a boy and named him Barack Obama, Jr. after his father.
After one semester at the University of Hawaii, Ann Dunham withdrew from college to help care for her new family. Soon after, Barack Sr. accepted a scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University. Acknowledging her husband's life quest of revitalizing Kenya's economy, Dunham decided to remain behind in Hawaii. In 1964 Ann filed for divorce, a decision which Barack Sr. did not contest.
Approximately one year later, Dunham returned to the University of Hawaii. With help from her parents and government food stamps, she was able to juggle a full schedule of classes while caring for her son. Despite life as a struggling young mother, Ann Dunham earned her undergraduate degree in four years. During her tenure at the University of Hawaii, Dunham became romantically involved with fellow student Lolo Soetoro.
Polite, even-tempered Soetoro was an international master's student from Indonesia. In 1967 he proposed to Dunham. Once married, Ann changed her surname to Soetoro and the new family relocated to Indonesia near the city of Jakarta. In 1970, Ann gave birth to daughter Maya.
Ann Soetoro was often grieved by the quality of life for local Indonesians. Those who were close to her say she was compassionate almost to a fault, and would give money to countless ailing beggars. As Ann became more interested in Indonesian culture, her husband Lolo began working for a Western oil company.
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