President-elect, Barack Obama, and a small group of friends and family attended a private memorial service last Tuesday in Hawaii for his maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. The service was held in the First Unitarian Church in Honolulu.
Almost two months after Dunham's death, the Obama family paid their final respects to the woman who helped raise Barack Obama, Madelyn Dunham. Obama’s beloved grandmother “Toot” Dunham, died on Nov 2 in Honolulu at 86 after a long bout with cancer. At the time, it was announced that Barack Obama would visit Hawaii in December to honor his grandmother.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the Obama family accompanied by about a dozen people scattered the ashes of Madelyn Dunham into the ocean near Lanai Lookout.
KHNL TV in Honolulu described the event:
Secret Service security keeps a close watch as Obama, oldest daughter Malia and sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, among others, make their way down to the rocky shoreline. Together, they spread the ashes of Madelyn Dunham. It's the same spot Obama paid tribute to his mother last August. She died in 1995.
According to the Star Bulletin, the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii laments the fact that they have received only two donations of less than $100 total despite the Obama family request that in lieu of flowers, “donations be made in her name to organizations in search of a cure for cancer.”
A couple of weeks after Dunham's death, the Hawaii Children's Cancer Foundation received a $50 donation in memory of Dunham.
When a close family member of an elected president dies of cancer donations usually go up, but there have been scant news reports concerning Madelyn Dunham following her death. Many early news reports failed to clarify that she had died of cancer. See the Nov 8 article What About Obama’s Grandmothers?
A news report in Chron.com notes that other than the memorial service for Madelyn Dunham on Dec 23, Obama has not attended a public church service since before being elected.
His lack of attendance at formal religious services was obvious and showcased a dilemma faced by Obama, who is between churches and often also expresses concern about bringing the disruption of his security detail into the lives of others. . .
"The president-elect didn't want to disrupt a church community on Christmas with the burdens that come with a presidential visit," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said Thursday.