Roberta McCain

Roberta Wright McCain (born February 7, 1912) is the widow of Admiral John S. McCain Jr. and mother of the late Senator and former presidential candidate John S. McCain III.

Roberta McCain
Roberta McCain at the 1992 launching of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56).jpg
Roberta McCain in 1992 at the launching of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56)
Roberta Wright

(1912-02-07) February 7, 1912 (age 108)
Known forWidow of Admiral John S. McCain Jr. and mother of U.S. Senator John McCain
m. 1933; died 1981)

Early lifeEdit

Roberta Wright and her identical twin sister Rowena (1912–2011) were born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on February 7, 1912. Their parents were Archibald Wright (1874–1971), a Los Angeles oil wildcatter, and Myrtle Mae Fletcher (1885–1972).[2][3]

Her father became a stay-at-home dad after gaining wealth from the oil industry and the family traveled constantly, with trips every summer during August.[3]

Marriage and familyEdit

On January 21, 1933, Wright eloped in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico with John S. McCain Jr., a naval ensign who would later become a four-star Admiral. At the time, Wright was attending the University of Southern California and McCain was attached to USS Oklahoma (BB-37).[3][4][5] Roberta McCain became the daughter-in-law of Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., a noted World War II carrier admiral under Fleet Admiral William Halsey.

In 1952, Roberta McCain was the ship sponsor for USS John S. McCain (DL-3), named for her father-in-law. She was also an honored guest at the 1992 launching of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) which was named for her husband and her father-in-law. She was also active in Navy Wives Clubs. For example, during Christmas 1971, she traveled to Saigon and presented $1,000 ($6,313 today) and 14 boxes of clothing to the Vietnam Advisory Board of Operation Helping Hand on behalf of the Pearl Harbor area Navy Wives Clubs.[6]

McCain gave birth to three children, one daughter and two sons: Jean Alexandra "Sandy" (McCain) Morgan (1934–2019)[7], John Sidney McCain III (1936–2018), and Joseph Pinckney "Joe" McCain II (born 1942). She also has 12 grandchildren (one of which is Meghan McCain), 15 great-grandchildren, [8] and six great-great-grandchildren[9] The McCain family was Episcopalian and Roberta McCain has said faith is important for her family.[10] She had sent her son, John McCain, to an Episcopalian high school, and has kept his prayer book.[11][12]

After John S. McCain III was taken prisoner during the Vietnam War, John S. McCain Jr. and Roberta McCain awaited his release at Pearl Harbor. On November 1, 1967, Roberta McCain wrote to President Lyndon B. Johnson, expressing her support of his policies in Vietnam as a "parent of a son who was shot down in Hanoi, last week, and is now a prisoner-of-war..."[13] In June 1968, Roberta McCain told Parade magazine, "Religion has been of great importance to us in our concern for Johnny, religion and the military tradition of my husband's family. We all pray for the time when we'll see Johnny again."[14]

In 1971, McCain requested no special sympathy in regard to her son's captivity. She stated that Navy tradition was important in the family; her daughter married a naval officer, John S. McCain III became a naval aviator and her youngest son Joe enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam War.[15] John S. McCain III was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five-and-a-half years. When notified upon his release on March 15, 1973, that he had shouted expletives at his captors, Roberta McCain's response was, "Johnny, I'm going to come over there and wash your mouth out with soap."[16]

John S. McCain III said this of his mother: "My mother was raised to be a strong, determined woman who thoroughly enjoyed life, and always tried to make the most of her opportunities. She was encouraged to accept, graciously and with good humor, the responsibilities and sacrifices her choices have required of her. I am grateful to her for the strengths she taught me by example."[17]

Later lifeEdit

McCain campaigned during her son's 2008 presidential bid, and was active in 2007[18] and 2008 despite her advanced age.[19] In November 2007, her comments during an MSNBC interview about Mitt Romney, his role in organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics, and his Mormonism generated minor political controversy and forced her son to respond to clarify her remarks.[20][21] In August 2008, she had a fashion shoot and was featured in a pair of Vogue magazine articles.[22][23] On May 13, 2009, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[24] McCain's comments about Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann created a stir with politicos on both sides even after her son's failed presidential bid.[25][26]

Roberta beside her son John McCain's casket in 2018.

McCain's life of traveling with family, specifically her twin sister, was noted by Maureen Orth in The New York Times in December 2007.[27] On October 22, 2009, she was hospitalized while traveling in Portugal after she fell and injured her head.[28]

Before her 100th birthday, McCain suffered a mild stroke.[29] McCain's 100th birthday was noted in a number of periodicals in the United States,[30] including an article by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Ken Herman.[31] She was featured in Town & Country magazine later that year.[32]

In September 2013, television commentator Greta Van Susteren wrote about McCain in an essay that was featured by Politico during their "Women Rule" series.[33] In September 2013, McCain and her parlor were featured in an article in the peer-reviewed academic journal, the Journal of Urban History.[34]

In 2018, members of McCain's family took to social media to express birthday wishes and memories of McCain over the years.[35] McCain accompanied other members of the McCain family in 2018 for the DC screening of the documentary John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls.[36] Before her son John's death in August 2018, she attended a Capitol Hill event where politicians commemorated the Senator as a living requiem.[37] After her son's death, she attended the ceremony that marked the arrival of his remains to lie in state in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.[38]

In November 2019, McCain's daughter Jean McCain Morgan died of mesothelioma, aged 85.[39][40]


  1. ^ Meacham, Jon (August 30, 2008). "Hidden Depths". Newsweek. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  2. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Sen. John McCain". William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c McBride, Jessica (July 20, 2017). "Roberta McCain, John's Mother: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  4. ^ "Navy Man, L.A. Girl Win Out in Turbulent Romance". Oakland Tribune. January 28, 1933.
  5. ^ "Society Coed Elopes with Navy Officer: Roberta Wright Defies Family". The San Francisco Examiner. January 28, 1933.
  6. ^ "Navy Wives Clubs give $1,000 to Helping Hand". Pacific Stars and Stripes. Tokyo, Japan. December 25, 1971.
  7. ^ Bufkin, Ellie. "Sandy Morgan, sister of John McCain, dies at 85". Washington Examiner. Washington examiner. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  8. ^ "John McCan's Mother Turns 105". The Western Journal. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  9. ^ "Alexandra Morgan Obituary - Annapolis, MD". Dignity Memorial.
  10. ^ Castle, Lauren. "John McCain and religion: Senator was raised Episcopal, attended Baptist church". azcentral. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Bland, Karina. "Sen. John McCain's mother, alive at 106, still called her son 'Johnny'". azcentral. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  12. ^ May 8, Katie Couric CBS; 2008; Pm, 6:43. "Transcript: John McCain And His Mother". Retrieved December 1, 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ "When McCain's mother wrote LBJ 50 years ago". ABC News. November 3, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  14. ^ Roberts, John G. (June 30, 1968). "The Admiral and His Son". Parade. p. 7.
  15. ^ Mann, William C. (May 31, 1971). "Navy Wife Asks No Sympathy". Advocate. Victoria, Texas. Associated Press.
  16. ^ Dickerson, John F. (February 28, 2000). "Johnny, I'll Wash Your Mouth Out". Time. 155 (8): 44. ISSN 0040-781X.
  17. ^ Gross, Terry (December 6, 2005). "Shaping Character and Destinies: John McCain". NPR. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  18. ^ Davenport, Jim (October 18, 2007). "McCain With Mom on Campaign Trail". Associated Press.
  19. ^ McNeill, Brian (October 30, 2008). "McCain's mother visits regional GOP office". Daily Progress. Charlottesville, Virginia.
  20. ^ "Play of the Day: McCain's Mom on Mormons". Associated Press. November 9, 2007.
  21. ^ "Hardball with Chris Matthews transcript". Hardball with Chris Matthews. MSNBC. November 9, 2007. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  22. ^ Reed, Julia (August 2008). "Roberta McCain: The Firecracker". Vogue. 198 (8): 214-1. ISSN 0042-8000. Archived from the original on August 15, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  23. ^ Meisel, Steven; Van Lamsweerde, Inez; Matadin, Vinoodh; Testino, Mario; Roy, Norman Jean (August 2008). "Peerless". Vogue. 198 (8): 70–71. ISSN 0042-8000.
  24. ^ "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno". May 13, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  25. ^ Mooney, Alexander (May 14, 2009). "McCain mom takes swipe at Limbaugh". CNN Politics. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  26. ^ Rainey, James (May 6, 2009). "Straight talk from John McCain's mother". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  27. ^ Orth, Maureen (December 14, 2007). "The Road Trip of 2 Lifetimes, and Still Going". The New York Times.
  28. ^ "Sen. McCain's mother hospitalized in Portugal". CNN Political Ticker. October 23, 2009. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  29. ^ McBride, Jessica (September 1, 2018). "John McCain's Mother Roberta McCain: 5 Fast Facts".
  30. ^ "A maverick at 100". The Washington Post. February 9, 2012.
  31. ^ Herman, Ken (February 4, 2012). "Me and John McCain's mom". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  32. ^ O'Rourke, P.J. (October 2012). "At 100, in Command". Town & Country. 166 (5387): 100–104. ISSN 0040-9952.
  33. ^ Van Susteren, Greta (September 11, 2013). "Coffee, conversation and a bond that transcends age and time". Politico. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  34. ^ Logan, Cameron (September 2013). "Mrs. McCain's Parlor: House and Garden Tours and the Inner-City Restoration Trend in Washington, D.C.". Journal of Urban History. 39 (5): 956–974. 19p. doi:10.1177/0096144213479323. ISSN 0096-1442.
  35. ^ "John McCain Pays Tribute to Mother Roberta on Her 106th Birthday: 'We Love You Mom'". Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  36. ^ "Debut of poignant McCain documentary 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'". NBC News. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  37. ^ "Analysis | 'He stood up for civility:' Tributes for ailing McCain a tacit contrast with Trump". Washington Post. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  38. ^ "John McCain's remarkable mother: At 106, Roberta McCain has outlived her son". Washington Post. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  39. ^ "John McCain's older sister, Jean Alexandra 'Sandy' McCain Morgan, dies at 85". Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  40. ^ "John McCain's Mom Roberta McCain Is 108 & 'Doing Great': Inside Her Birthday After Pneumonia Scare".

External linksEdit