OLNEY, Md. (AP) — Virginia McLaurin, the centenarian who danced with excitement during a 2016 visit with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House, has died. She was 113.
McLaurin’s son, Felipe Cardoso Jr., said Tuesday that she died early Monday at her home in Olney, Maryland.
“Rest in peace, Virginia,” the Obamas wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “We know you’re up there dancing.”
A viral video accompanied the post showing McLaurin’s White House visit during a Black History Month reception in February 2016 when she was 106.
“Hi!” McLaurin squealed as she was introduced to the president.
“You want to say hi to Michelle?” Obama asked.
“Yes!” McLaurin said, moving quickly to give Michelle Obama a hug.
“Slow down now!” the president said. “Don’t go too quick.”
The women then held hands as they went into an impromptu dance, the president holding McLaurin’s arm.
“I thought I would never live to get in the White House,” she said. “And I tell you, I am so happy.
“A Black president. A Black wife! And I’m here to celebrate Black history. Yeah, that’s what I’m here for.”
Video of the encounter quickly spread online, garnering international news coverage. After the brief meeting, McLaurin told reporters: “I could just die happy.”
Donations poured in to a fundraising page set up for those who asked about helping with expenses for one of the Internet’s newest stars. Later that year she made an appearance at a Washington Nationals baseball game where she was presented with a team jersey on the field.
“She was just so carefree,” Cardoso said in a telephone interview. “She said her secret to life was not to worry, so she never let things worry her. She just didn’t pay it no mind.”
Born March 12, 1909 in South Carolina, the sharecropper’s daughter spent decades upon retirement doing volunteer work at schools. According to the Obama White House archives, she served as a foster grandparent and mentor to special-needs students, helping children with reading and social skills.
Cardoso said McLaurin adopted him when he was 3.
“She loved and cared for everybody,” he said. “She definitely had a big heart for the kids. She loved kids.”
Cardoso said funeral arrangements were incomplete.