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Madeleine Albright’s daughter, Alice Albright, pays tribute to her late mother – who served as the first female US Secretary of State – after she died on Wednesday at the age of 84.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Alice – who currently holds a position of “politically appointed by the [Joe] The Biden Administration” as chief executive of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government agency – opens up about his late mother’s life, both professionally and personally.
Alice proudly describes Madeleine as “the best mom ever,” and despite her career, which has seen her jet-set all over the world, notes, “she’s never been far from us , never”. Although she admits that “much of her mother’s work and international travel” didn’t happen until she and her siblings were “sort of out of the house”.
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“She called us constantly. She made it very clear to us that if we ever needed her, we could have her anytime,” Alice shares. “And she always wanted to know how we were doing, what was going on, how was the kids, how was your job, what was going on, always. So she was always with us, all the time.”
Growing up, Alice says she and her siblings – twin Anne and sister Katie – were aware of their mother’s high-profile career. She even brought them to the campaign office where she worked to “help stuff the envelopes on Saturday afternoons.”
However, Alice tells PEOPLE she never thought Madeline was anyone other than “just our mom.”
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“I don’t remember her coming home [from work] and saying, ‘Guess what I just did?’ She was always coming, always was, ‘What’s going on with you? Let’s go sell Girl Scout cookies. Let’s go for a trip,'” says Alice.
Courtesy of the Albright family
Earlier this week, Madeleine died of cancer, according to a statement from her family. In the ad, she was remembered as a “tireless champion of democracy and human rights” and a “loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend”.
Madeleine immigrated to the United States at age 11 from Prague in what was then Czechoslovakia in 1948. She spent the rest of her childhood in Denver before continuing her education at Wellesley College, where she graduated in 1959.
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Her career in the political industry began after being drafted into the White House under President Jimmy Carter after years of college. She has also advised several prominent Democratic politicians on foreign policy and was even named President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations in 1993.
Courtesy of the Albright family
During her mother’s lifetime, Alice tells PEOPLE, her family was a “huge” passion for her.
“Thanksgiving and Christmas were always important, and she always wanted to remember birthdays, and always called well before the birthdays of children, grandchildren,” she shares, adding that Madeleine held the tradition of her own. mother. “And so that was always very important to her. She always, always made sure everyone called everyone on their birthday.”
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“It wasn’t just birthdays. It was birthdays. Yeah, so [she was] a lot to remember things. In terms of what she loved to do, she loved bringing all of us together. So we’ve had some amazing trips,” Alice continues.
In December 1996, Clinton named Madeleine the first female secretary of state, and she was unanimously confirmed weeks later, in early 1997. She remained in that role until the end of Clinton’s second term. as president.
“After she left the office, she went on a kind of exercise binge, and she did a lot of exercise,” Alice recalled. “She walked a lot. And when we went to New York for our girls’ weekends, which we often did for her birthday, we walked everywhere. So she loved to walk…she walked around her garden and note how many times she walked in the garden [during the COVID-19 pandemic].”
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When asked how his mum would like him to be remembered, Alice replied, “I think, first of all, as a super mum and great grandmother, which she was.”
“So she would want to be remembered, I think, as an incredible audience – a dedicated public servant, which she was, and dedicated to building friendships around the world, whether or not it was at official title, or just kind of person to person.” adds Alice. “She was also incredibly humble and wanted to do things for herself. And she never forgot who she was.”