Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Dorothy Rodham

Few mother-daughter journeys in American history have covered the distance from adversity to achievement as well as that of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her mother Dorothy Howell Rodham, who died Nov. 1 at 92. Born into an abusive family in Chicago in June 1919, Rodham was abandoned at 8 and took a train to California with her younger sister to live with their paternal grandparents. Unwanted there, she left at 14, in the depths of the Depression, to become a nanny while finishing high school. She returned to Chicago in 1937 to her mother's broken promise to fund a college education. She found work as a clerk. After marrying small-businessman Hugh Rodham in 1942, Dorothy Rodham raised three children — Hillary, Hugh and Tony — encouraging them to read, stand up for themselves and not give up. She inspired Secretary Clinton's lifelong dedication as a lawyer and public servant to the rights of women and children. "Learning about my mother's childhood sparked my strong conviction," Clinton said, "that we should never quit on any child."

This text originally appeared in the Nov. 14, 2011 issue of TIME magazine.