Virginia McLaurin, Who Danced With The Obamas At The White House, Dead At 113

Video of the encounter quickly spread online, garnering international news coverage.

OLNEY, Md. (AP) 鈥 Virginia McLaurin, the centenarian who danced excitedly with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a 2016 White House visit, has died. She was 113.

McLaurin鈥檚 son, Felipe Cardoso Jr., said Tuesday that she died early Monday at her home in Olney, Maryland.

鈥淩est in peace, Virginia,鈥 the Obamas wrote on Twitter. 鈥淲e know you鈥檙e up there dancing.鈥

Virginia McLaurin was 106 when she met President and First Lady Obama and became a viral sensation in 2016.
Virginia McLaurin was 106 when she met President and First Lady Obama and became a viral sensation in 2016.
Kate Patterson/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

McLaurin visited the White House for a Black History Month reception in February 2016, when she was 106.

鈥淗i!鈥 McLaurin squealed as she was introduced to the president.

鈥淵ou want to say hi to Michelle?鈥 Obama asked.

鈥淵es!鈥 McLaurin said, moving quickly to give the first lady a hug.

鈥淪low down now!鈥 the president said. 鈥淒on鈥檛 go too quick.鈥

The women then held hands as they went into an impromptu dance, the president holding McLaurin鈥檚 arm.

鈥淚 thought I would never live to get in the White House,鈥 she said. 鈥淎nd I tell you, I am so happy.

鈥淎 Black president. A Black wife! And I鈥檓 here to celebrate Black history. Yeah, that鈥檚 what I鈥檓 here for.鈥

Video of the encounter quickly spread online, garnering international news coverage. After the brief meeting, McLaurin told reporters: 鈥淚 could just die happy.鈥

Deborah Menkart, a friend who helped arrange McLaurin鈥檚 2016 visit, said it dramatically changed her life. She said McLaurin was living 鈥渧ery frugally鈥 at the time but her fame spurred people to donate to a care fund for her.

鈥淪he got a new wig, she got new teeth, she was able to move to a better apartment,鈥 Menkart said.

Later that year McLaurin appeared at a Washington Nationals baseball game and was presented with a team jersey on the field.

McLaurin also used her fame to help others.

Born March 12, 1909, in South Carolina without a birth certificate, McLaurin had been unable to get an ID card. Shortly after the White House visit, Menkart suggested they contact the mayor鈥檚 office and the Washington Post, which interviewed her and published a story.

Washington city officials soon issued her a temporary card and announced new regulations giving residents 70 and older more options to get IDs.

鈥淚t changed her life for not only herself, but also the clout she had,鈥 Menkart said.

A sharecropper鈥檚 daughter, McLaurin spent decades upon retirement doing volunteer work at schools. According to the Obama White House archives, she was a foster grandparent and a mentor to special-needs students, helping children with reading and social skills.

鈥淪he was just so carefree,鈥 Cardoso said. 鈥淪he said her secret to life was not to worry, so she never let things worry her. She just didn鈥檛 pay it no mind.鈥

Cardoso said McLaurin adopted him when he was 3.

鈥淪he loved and cared for everybody,鈥 he said. 鈥淪he definitely had a big heart for the kids.鈥

Cardoso said funeral arrangements were pending.

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