In a Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009 file photo, Ann Nixon Cooper celebrates her 107th birthday party at her home in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photo/The Journal & Constitution, Joey Ivansco, File)

Cooper last January. She would have turned 108 next month. (Joey Ivansco/Journal & Constitution/AP)

By Mark Memmott

Ann Nixon Cooper, who then president-elect Barack Obama noted last year had lived long enough to know both "the heartache" of being denied the right to vote and "the hope" of seeing him elected the nation's first African-American president, died Monday at the age of 107.

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, "weeks before the 2008 presidential election, Cooper went to the advance voting polls, and the media followed her. Obama called and left a message thanking her for her support."

On election night, Obama said of Cooper that "this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change."

MyFoxAtlanta reports that Cooper "died peacefully in her bed Monday afternoon surrounded by loved ones."

The White House just released this statement from the president:

"Michelle and I wish to express our deepest condolences on the passing of Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper. From her beginnings in Shelbyville and Nashville, Tenn., to her many years as a pillar of the Atlanta community, Ann lived a life of service. Whether it was helping to found the Girls Club for African American Youth, serving on the board of directors for the Gate City Nursery, working as a tutor at Ebenezer Baptist Church or registering voters, Ann had a broad and lasting impact on her community. I also understand that as a wife, mother and grandmother, Ann was a source of strength for her entire family, and that she always put them first.
"Over the course of her extraordinary 107 years, Ann saw both the brightest lights of our nation's history and some of its darkest hours as well. It is especially meaningful for me that she lived to cast a vote on Election Day 2008, and it was a deep honor for me to mark her life in the speech I delivered that night. It was a life that captured the spirit of community and change and progress that is at the heart of the American experience; a life that inspired -- and will continue to inspire -- me in the years to come. During this time of sadness, Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to all who loved Ann Nixon Cooper. But even as we mourn her loss, we will also be rejoicing in all that she meant for her family, her community, and so many Americans."

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET: NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates, who helped Cooper write her just-published memoir, remembers her friend.

categories: Obama Administration, Obituaries, Politics

11:55 - December 22, 2009