Dorothy Emma Howell was born in 1919 and abandoned as a child.
In her book "Living History," Hillary Clinton described her mother's childhood as lonely and loveless.
In 1942 she married Hugh Rodman and became a full-time mom, raising three children in Park Ridge.
One of them, a little girl who was bullied and had to learn a tough lesson on how to stand up for herself.
In a 2004 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Rodham said, "I said just go out there and show them you're not afraid and if she does hit you again, which she kept doing, hit her back."
Rodham was a witness to her daughter's political victories and defeats.
She avoided the spotlight but made an exception when she appeared in a campaign ad during her daughter's 2008 presidential campaign.
On Tuesday, President Obama reflected on her passing.
"Ms. Rodham was a remarkable person," he said. "Anybody who knows her history knows what a strong determined and gifted person she was."
Said long-time family friend Kevin O'Keefe, "Hillary is sad because everything she learned about being a mother she learned from her mother."
O'Keefe met Rodham when he was a college student. The friend and former White House staffer said he got the email this morning informing him that she has passed away. He said she was a classical suburban mother who lived for her children and family.
"I think the world is a better place because Hillary was here and the world is a better place because Dorothy was her mother," he said.
A memorial service will be Sunday in Washington.
Donations may be made to George Washington Hospital or to a local organization that helps neglected or mistreated children, a blight Dorothy was determined to remedy until her last day because she knew all too well the pain children suffer.