Virginia McLaurin, who garnered national fame for her dance with then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in 2016, has died. She was 113.
Her death was confirmed by her son Felipe Cardoso, who told CNN she died Monday morning. A post on McLaurin’s official Facebook page also said she “had been under hospice care for a few days.”
“People always asked what was her secret to life. She didn’t really put emphasis on the bad stuff and she didn’t let stuff worry her,” Cardoso told CNN on Wednesday. “She loved the kids and she was just happy to see the first African American president. She was definitely a happy woman, she wasn’t sad or angry. Up until her last day she knew everything … she still had her wit.”
Born in Cheraw, South Carolina, in 1909, the centenarian moved to Washington, DC, in 1941 where she spent decades volunteering in classrooms and served as a foster grandparent. McLaurin lived through 20 presidents.
McLaurin explained in a 2014 YouTube video that she would love to meet the country’s first Black first family but didn’t know if it would be possible.
“I didn’t think I’d ever live to see a colored president. I am so happy. I pray for you every day of my life,” McLaurin said in the video.
According to an archived White House blog post, a friend of McLaurin’s reached out to the White House and shared McLaurin’s “stellar work as a volunteer throughout DC” and her wish to visit the White House.
Her dream came true in February 2016 and she visited the White House at 106-years-old, meeting the then-president and first lady. In a viral video of the meeting, McLaurin squealed with excitement and danced as she greeted Obama, telling him, “It’s an honor, it’s an honor.” Afterwards, she rushed over to the first lady to greet her and was told by the former president, “Slow down now, don’t go too quick.” The three playfully danced before posing for a group photo.
“I wanna be like you when I grow up,” Michelle Obama told her then.
“You can,” McLaurin replied.
“I thought I would never live to get in the White House,” McLaurin told the Obamas. “And I tell you, I am so happy. A Black president. A Black wife. And I’m here to celebrate Black history.”
On Tuesday, the Obamas remembered McLaurin in a Twitter post and wrote, “Rest in peace, Virginia. We know you’re up there dancing.” The post also included a video of McLaurin’s famous dance.