FAIRMONT, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin grew up in a family that placed family first.
And that meant having a close relationship with his mother Mary, who passed away Monday morning at the age of 91.
Manchin issued the following statement Monday in regards to his mother passing away: “Today, the good Lord brought my dear mother home to rest in eternal peace next to my father. Gayle and I, and our entire family, are saddened by the loss of my beloved mother who touched so many in her life, but we know that she is now in a better place. We ask that you continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.”
During a recent interview, Manchin was asked to describe his mother.
“My mother is the most nurturing person I’ve ever known in my life,” Manchin said at the time. “Naive at one time, I assumed that all kids felt the unconditional love that my siblings, cousins and I felt every day. We may not have been rich with material possessions, but I always felt that we were raised as privileged children from the love and comfort our parents and grandparents shared with us.”
Manchin, who’s in his fourth year as a senator in Washington, D.C., said that focus on family made him think he was one of the luckiest people in the country when he was growing up.
That’s a view that strengthens as he gets older, and he admits that these days, he realizes it was often the small things that meant the most to him.
He said he will never forget when his mom became his den mother in Cub Scouts.
“At the ripe age of 7 years old, I could not have been more proud,” he explained. “Scouting changed my life. It challenged me. And Mom was right there with me, holding my hand until I was ready to let go and become a Boy Scout on my own.”
Manchin said Cub Scouts was just the first of many activities his mother supported.
“Coming from an athletic and sports-minded family, she did not even hold back on practicing with us in the sports we played,” he recalled. “In her prime, she was probably one of the best athletes I’ve ever met. I was so proud. How many kids can say their mother could shoot a basketball, throw a football and hit a baseball as well as any of us? Not many, but I could.
“She was an inspiration, watching her get involved in getting us involved. And most remarkably, I never knew Mom to say that she was too busy or too tired. She never created excuses to focus on her own priorities. The selflessness Mom exemplified was just one of the many traits that inspired us to be better versions of ourselves.”
Mary Manchin grew up near Farmington, in the town of Rachel, with three sisters and four brothers. Her father, a Czechoslovakian immigrant, ran a grocery store.
She didn’t yearn to be a nurse or a teacher or a secretary or any of the other options open to women in those days…