Roberta McCain, John McCain's mother, dies at 108

PHOENIX (AP) - Roberta Wright McCain, the mother of Senator John McCain, who used her lively spirit to convince voters during his 2008 presidential campaign, has died. She was 108 years old.
A spokeswoman for daughter-in-law Cindy McCain says Roberta McCain died on Monday. A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
At 96, Roberta McCain became the Republican Senator's secret weapon during election freezes as evidence that voters shouldn't have to worry about their son's age - after 70 - when he was running for the presidency.
She remained energetic and active until her 90s, traveling often with her identical twin sister Rowena, who died at the age of 99. She attended the Republican National Assembly in 2008, where her son attributed "her love for life, her deep interest in the world," to her strength and conviction that we should all use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country . I wouldn't be here tonight except for the strength of her character. "
It was in 1933 when a 20-year-old Roberta Wright defied her family and broke through with John McCain Jr. Documents released in 2008 showed that John Jr. got into trouble as a young ensign when the couple decided to get married and he abandoned his ship without permission.
"I got married young," she told The Muskogee Phoenix in her hometown of Oklahoma in 2008. "I was 20 years old and it was the best decision I've ever made."
She married into a famous military family - her husband retired in 1972 with the rank of four-star admiral, which his father John S. "Slew" McCain Sr. also held. Her son was later held as a prisoner. War in Vietnam when his father was Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Forces in the late 1960s.
Roberta McCain was also a young mother when her three children were born and later told the Oklahoma newspaper that she “was too young and irresponsible to know that you should care for her. I just let her go. I enjoyed watching them. "
The senator, who died in 2018, said in 2008 that his "father was often at sea and that the job of raising my brother, sister, and me is my mother's sole responsibility."
Her other son, Joe, told The Associated Press in 2007 that the family had endless table discussions of history, politics, and legislation under her mother's direction.
"We were all basically on the same side of the fence," said Joe McCain. "But it was like Talmudic scholars arguing over a single word or adjective in the will."
When Senator John McCain wrote a memoir for nearly six years on his experience as a prisoner of war in a North Vietnamese prison, he described times when he swore in English by his Vietnamese guards who did not understand.
His mother later told him, "Johnny, I'll come over there and wash your mouth with soap."
Recalling her strong will and sense of duty in a 2012 column for The Daily Beast website, her granddaughter Meghan McCain wrote that Roberta McCain “didn't have much patience for excuses, especially from my dad growing up and acting out."
"She once hit him over the head with a thermos on the back of a car because he misbehaved on a road trip," wrote Meghan McCain.
The McCain matriarch's spunky personality became the stuff of the family - and those in her circle of Washington society.
“Last Christmas she wanted to go through France. So she flew to Paris and tried to rent a car, ”the senator once joked. "They said she was too old so she bought one and drove around France."
Roberta Wright was born on February 7, 1912 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where her father was a businessman whose diverse, colorful businesses included piracy and oil wildcatting. The family moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1920s.
Her husband commanded submarines in World War II and was second in command of the cruiser St. Paul during the Korean War. He later held key positions, including naval liaison to Congress, and died in 1981.
When a fitness report found him underweight in 1934, the future admiral wrote: "My wife does not know how to cook and my meals are very irregular."
This story contains biographical material compiled by former AP reporter Polly Anderson.

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