Seventy year old Josephine “Ann” Harris was no stranger to having celebrities and politicians visiting her restaurant in Akron, Ohio. But when Barack Obama came by during a campaign stop, Harris was completely starstruck with the President. So starstruck, that later that evening she died of cardiac arrest.
“You know it’s great,” Harris, 70, said Friday morning, shortly after Obama left her family-owned restaurant on South Hawkins Avenue.
Harris, who didn’t know Obama planned to visit until earlier that morning, sat at a booth with a wet towel around her neck.
“He treated us like one of the brothers,” she said. “He hugged all of us and … got his picture taken with all of us.”
Within hours of Obama’s visit, Harris, who had been ill for some time, complained of fatigue and a tingling feeling. She was rushed to Akron General Medical Center, where she died about 11:15 a.m., according to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Her family members and beloved customers were saddened by her death, yet they were pleased she was first able to meet the president.
“I’m sure this was her highlight,” said Frankie Adkins, Harris’ sister, who lives in Tulsa, Okla., and had heard about her sister’s sudden death from family members. “She loved Obama.”
The president’s campaign offered condolences to the Harris family.
“As a small-business owner, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and friend of many throughout the community, Ann led an exceptional life and will be missed by all who knew her,” Greg Schultz, the Ohio director of Obama’s campaign said in an emailed statement. “Ann and her family are in our thoughts and prayers.”