WASHINGTON — Dorothy Rodham, mother of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton's mother-in-law, died Tuesday at age 92 after an illness.
The family said Rodham died shortly after midnight, surrounded by her family at a Washington hospital. The secretary of state cancelled a trip to London and Istanbul to be at her mother's side.
In a statement, the Clinton family hailed Rodham as a woman who "overcame abandonment and hardship as a young girl to become the remarkable woman she was — a warm, generous and strong woman; an intellectual; a woman who told a great joke and always got the joke; an extraordinary friend and, most of all, a loving wife, mother and grandmother."
President Barack Obama praised Rodham as a "remarkable person" who was "strong, determined and gifted."
Dorothy Rodham witnessed her daughter's political victories and defeats. She avoided the spotlight and rarely gave interviews about herself or her daughter and son-in-law, the former president.
A notable exception was her daughter's 2008 bid for the Democratic nomination for president. She appeared with her daughter in primary states, particularly at events focusing on women's issues.
When Clinton ended her campaign during a speech in June 2008 at Washington's National Building Museum, her mother watched from off stage and wiped a tear as Clinton conceded the nomination to Obama. The next February, Rodham was on hand as her daughter was sworn in as Obama's secretary of state.
Dorothy Howell Rodham was born in Chicago in 1919, the daughter of a city firefighter. In her autobiography, Living History, Hillary Clinton described her mother's childhood as lonely and loveless.
She met Hugh E. Rodham, a native of Scranton, Pa., who had found work in Chicago as a traveling salesman. They marryed in 1942. Besides their daughter, they raised two sons, Hugh and Tony. Hugh Rodham died in 1993.
In a debate during the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton called her mother her inspiration.
"I owe it to my mother, who never got a chance to go to college, who had a very difficult childhood, but who gave me a belief that I could do whatever I set my mind," she said.
The Clinton family plans a private memorial service.