ATLANTA - Ann Nixon Cooper, 107, the centenarian lauded by President Obama in his 2008 election-night acceptance speech, has died.
Carl M. Williams Funeral Directors of Atlanta, which is handling arrangements, confirmed that Ms. Cooper died Monday at her southwest Atlanta home.
Obama, in his speech last year, called Ms. Cooper an example of "the heartbreak and the hope" of the past century. He noted she was born at a time when women and blacks couldn't vote and lived to cast her ballot for the country's first black president.
Yesterday, Obama praised Ms. Cooper's life of service and offered condolences.
He said in a statement: "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."
On Inauguration Day, Ms. Cooper proudly hosted a full house of media and guests to watch Obama take office - a feat for which she took partial credit. When one of her grandsons asked, "How do you feel about having a black president?" she quickly responded, "I helped put him there."
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ms. Cooper's autobiography, A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name, is due to be released days before she would have turned 108 on Jan. 9.
Ms. Cooper first registered to vote on Sept. 1, 1941, but because she was a black woman in a segregated, sexist society, she didn't exercise her right for years - deferring instead to her husband, prominent Atlanta dentist Albert B. Cooper.
She cast an early ballot for Obama on Oct. 16, 2008.
Ms. Cooper outlived her husband, who died in 1967, and three of her four children. Her daughter Joyce Bobo and 15 grandchildren are among her survivors.
In her 90s, she jokingly claimed civil-rights icon Andrew Young as her "boyfriend." Young, a former Atlanta mayor and ordained minister, was also a fellow member of First Congregational Church.
Ms. Cooper did aerobics until she was 100, took the stairs to her bedroom until she broke her hip last year, wore out friends 20 years her junior on shopping trips, and even dismissed Young on the dance floor at her 104th birthday party, he recalled
"She just outlived and outlasted everybody," said Young.