Stanley Armour Dunham

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Stanley Armour Dunham

Birthplace: Wichita, Sedgwick, Kansas, United States
Death: February 08, 1992 (73)
Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Place of Burial: National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham and Ruth Lucille Dunham
Husband of Madelyn Lee Dunham
Father of Dr. Stanley Ann Dunham
Brother of Unknown Dunham; Virginia Mae Goeldner and Ralph Dunham, Jr.
Half brother of Elenor Belle Berkebile

Occupation: U.S. Army, Salesman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Stanley Armour Dunham

The family is found living with Ruth's parents in the 1920 federal census of Sedgwick County, Kansas. In 1930, following the death of their mother Ruth, Ralph Jr. and Stanley are living with their maternal grandparents in Butler County, Kansas, while their father, Ralph Sr. was enumerated with his parents in Sedgwick County, Kansas.

Stanley Dunham, was raised in El Dorado, and his grandmother, Madelyn Payne, grew up in Augusta.

They met in Wichita as war broke out in Europe, then eloped, according to the 2004 re-release of Obama's 1996 autobiography, "Dreams from My Father." Stanley Dunham joined the Army after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and Madelyn Dunham went to work at Boeing.

Their daughter Stanley Ann, Obama's mother, was born at Fort Leavenworth.

The family lived briefly in El Dorado when she was about 8 years old - just in the year 1955, said Lisa Cooley, curator of education and research librarian for the Butler County History Center.

Stanley Dunham managed the Farm and Home Store at 142 N. Main, a large brick building being converted into retail and office space. The family lived in a house at 1434 West Olive before moving to Seattle, where Dunham sold furniture, Cooley said.

Grandfather's history:

Stanley Dunham apparently had come to El Dorado as a boy to live with his mother's parents after his mother, Ruth Armour Dunham, died in 1926 in Topeka, Cooley said. Ruth is buried in Sunset Lawn Cemetery in El Dorado.

Cooley is trying to compile a more detailed history of the family, but large chunks are missing. One sidelight: Ruth's sister, Doris Armour, was a Miss El Dorado during one of the city's corn carnivals, a three-day celebrat ion held annually between 1911 and 1929 that brought as many as 70,000 people to town.

"From what I understand of Stanley, he was really quiet," Cooley said. "I'm sure he had friends, but I don't know if he created long-lasting friends or relationships."

Kerns, 90, attended high school with Stanley Dunham and said he was a nice guy, a "run of-the-mill" kid who didn't participate in sports or join clubs.

Next to Stanley Dunham's photo in the 1936 high school yearbook is just one phrase: "A loyal member of the Class of '36."

During his speech, Obama joked with Kerns, the class historian, that he appreciated Kerns not talking about how his grandfather always got in trouble in high school. But, Kerns said, Stanley Dunham wasn't worse than any other high school kid.

"It was just high school stuff. He wasn't ever any real trouble," Kerns said.

Stanley Dunham took the family to Seattle and sold furniture, then went to Hawaii, where he later retired. Madelyn Dunham was vice president of a bank there and still lives in Hawaii.

Obama lived with his grandparents in Hawaii after his mother and father split.

Stanley Dunham returned to El Dorado in 1985 for the 50th reunion of the Class of 1935. His older brother, Ralph, who lives in Florida, joined him on the trip, but Madelyn did not.

Although Dunham graduated in 1936, he considered himself part of the previous year's class, Kerns said.

"Some credit didn't count or something, and he went back and graduated with the other class," Kerns said. "I don't know what happened."

Dunham died in 1992. Obama's mother died of cancer in 1995.

Grandmother's history

Madelyn Dunham was an intelligent girl raised by strict parents, said a friend who grew up with her and asked to remain anonymous.

"Madelyn sometimes could not do a lot of the things the other girls could," the friend said.

In Augusta before the war, there wasn't much to do, anyway, she said. They went to movies and a skating rink and a drugstore. They came to Wichita to shop and attend dances at the Blue Moon on South Oliver, where the big bands of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and others played.

"The parents, most of them, approved," the friend said. "I'm not sure if Madelyn's parents did. But we all went."

Wolf grew up in Augusta and remembers going to Madelyn Dunham's house for Fourth of July celebrations. She also remembers playing with dolls with Stanley Ann briefly. She was only 6 or 7 when the family left Kansas, she said.

She remembered her cousin's family, like her own, emphasized education.

"They always said have two degrees so if you don't like one, you can do the other," Wolf said.

After Obama spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention, Madelyn Dunham's friends from Augusta wrote her letters saying how impressed they were with her grandson, predicting that someday he would run for president, the friend said.

At the most recent reunion, everybody signed a card telling her that Obama had a good chance to be elected.

There was no response, she said, although Madelyn Dunham did send macadamia nuts for the reunion three years ago.

Family resemblance

Friends of Obama's grandparents can see the similarities in the candidate's face.

In one photograph, Kerns said, "It's shocking how much he looks like his grandfather."

Wolf has no doubt that Kansas has thoroughly seeped into Obama's roots. His honesty is proof, she said. That comes from his ancestors.

"Our parents just wouldn't tell a lie. They said it's so much easier to tell the truth because you just don't have to worry about it," Wolf said.

"I know his roots are from Kansas," she said. "I know that."

Stanley Armour Dunham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stanley Armour Dunham (March 23, 1918 – February 8, 1992) was the American grandfather of U.S. President Barack Obama. He and his wife Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham raised Obama from the age of 10 in Honolulu, Hawaii.[2][3]

Early life

Dunham was born in Wichita, Kansas, the second child of Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham, Sr. and Ruth Lucille Armour. His father's ancestors settled in Kempton, Indiana in the 1840s, before relocating to Kansas.[4] His parents were married in Wichita at a home on S. Saint Francis St. and opened The Travelers' Cafe on William Street, sandwiched between the old firehouse and the old Wichita City Hall.[5][6]

In 1926, at age 8, Stanley discovered his mother's body after she had committed suicide at the age of 26. Following his mother's suicide, his father abandoned the family and Stanley and his older brother, Ralph Emerson Dunham, were sent to live with their maternal grandparents in El Dorado, Kansas.[7] A rebellious teenager, he allegedly punched his high school principal and spent some time drifting, hopping rail cars to Chicago, then California, then back again.[8] Stanley married Madelyn Payne on May 5, 1940, which was the night of Madelyn's senior prom.[9]

[edit]Adult life

[edit]World War II

After the outbreak of World War II, Stanley Dunham enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army on January 18, 1942, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He served in Europe with the 1830th Ordnance Supply and Maintenance Company, Aviation. During D-Day, this unit helped to support the 9th Air Force. They were deployed in France six weeks after D-Day.[10] Stanley’s older brother Ralph Emerson Dunham, great-uncle to Barack, landed at Normandy's Omaha Easy Red beach on D-Day plus four.[11][12] Before the Invasion of Normandy, the brothers once met accidentally while Stanley went in search of rations at the Hotel Russell in London, where Ralph happened to be staying.[10] Madelyn gave birth to a daughter they named Stanley Ann, who was later known as Ann, at Fort Leavenworth on November 29, 1942. During the war, Madelyn Dunham worked on a Boeing B-29 assembly line in Wichita.[13][14]

[edit]Post-World War II

After two years of military service in Europe (1943–1945), Stanley was discharged from the U.S. Army on August 30, 1945. After the war, the family moved to Berkeley, California and then eventually back to El Dorado, Kansas, where Stanley managed a furniture store. In 1955, Stanley and Madelyn moved to Seattle, Washington, where he worked as a salesman for the Standard-Grunbaum Furniture Company, and where their daughter Stanley Ann attended Eckstein Middle School. They lived in an apartment in the Wedgewood Estates in the Wedgwood, Seattle neighborhood. In 1956 they moved to the Shorewood Apartments on Mercer Island, a Seattle suburb, where they lived until 1960 and where their daughter Ann attended Mercer Island High School. In 1957 Stanley began working for the Doces Majestic Furniture Company.[15][16][17]


Madelyn and Stanley Dunham then moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he found a better furniture store opportunity. Madelyn started working at the Bank of Hawaii in 1960, and was promoted as one of the first female bank vice presidents in 1970.[18][19] In 1970s Honolulu, both women and the minority white population were routinely the target of discrimination.[20]

In Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams From My Father, he mentions, "One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather's shoulders as the astronauts from one of the Apollo missions arrived at Hickam Air Force Base after a successful splashdown." After the Obama marriage fell apart, the young Barack spent four years with his mother and her second husband in Jakarta, Indonesia. He returned to the United States at age ten to live with his maternal grandparents in the Makiki district of Honolulu and enrolled in the fifth grade at the Punahou School. The tuition fees for the prestigious preparatory school were paid with the aid of scholarships. Ann would later come back to Hawaii and pursue graduate studies; she eventually earned a PhD in anthropology and went on to be employed on development projects in Indonesia and around the world helping impoverished women obtain microfinance. When she returned to Indonesia in 1977 for her Masters' fieldwork, Obama stayed in the United States with his grandparents. Obama writes in his memoir, Dreams From My Father, "I’d arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept my trouble out of sight."[21][22]


Dunham died in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1992 and is buried in the Punchbowl National Cemetery. His widow Madelyn took care of her daughter in Hawaii in the months before Ann died in 1995 at age 52.[21] Her last interview was in 2004, on the occasion of her grandson's keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.[9][23]


Dunham's heritage consists of English and other European ancestors who settled in the American colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Stanley’s first ancestor to be born in the United States was Jonathan Singletary Dunham, born in Newbury, Massachusetts in 1640.[24][25] The most recent native European ancestor was Falmouth Kearney, a farmer who emigrated from Moneygall, County Offaly, Ireland during the Great Irish Famine and settled in Jefferson Township, Tipton County, Indiana, United States. Kearney's youngest daughter, Mary Ann (Kearney) Dunham, was Stanley Dunham's paternal grandmother.[26]

Stanley Armour Dunham’s distant cousins include six US presidents: James Madison, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.[27] Through a common ancestor, Mareen Duvall, a wealthy Huguenot merchant who emigrated to Maryland in the 1650s, Stanley Dunham is related to former Vice-President Dick Cheney (an eighth cousin once removed).[6] Through another common ancestor, Hans Gutknecht, a Swiss German from Bischwiller, Alsace whose three sons resettled in Germantown, Pennsylvania as well as the Kentucky frontier in the mid-1700s, Stanley Dunham is President Harry S. Truman's fourth cousin, twice removed.[28][29][30]


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Stanley Armour Dunham's Timeline

March 23, 1918
Wichita, Sedgwick, Kansas, United States
November 29, 1942
Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, United States
Age 43
Honolulu, Hawaii
Age 45
Honolulu, Hawaii
February 8, 1992
Age 73
Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
February 13, 1992
Age 73
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States