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PITTSBURGH — The 70-year-old proprietor of a diner in Akron, Ohio, died hours after meeting President Obama when he stopped in for breakfast Friday morning, according to a published report.
Josephine “Ann” Harris, owner of Ann’s Place diner, died of a heart attack at 11:18 a.m. after suffering fatigue and being taken to a nearby emergency room, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. Obama had arrived at the restaurant at 8:06 a.m., and he departed at 8:42 a.m., according to a press pool report.
Harris, described as infirm, had reportedly hugged Obama in the parking lot after he stopped in for a plate of bacon and eggs at the start of the second day of the president’s bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Obama phoned Harris’s daughter, Wilma Parsons, from Air Force One on his way from Pittsburgh, where he ended the bus tour, to Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
“The president expressed his sorrow and his condolences,” Carney told reporters on the plane ride. “Very sad event, he was honored to meet her this morning and passed on his feelings that the whole family is in his thoughts and prayers today.”
The Beacon Journal reported that Harris adored Obama, quoting her sister Frankie Adkins as saying that meeting him Friday was “her highlight.”
The president was using the two-day bus tour to connect with voters in key swing states. He made several impromptu stops along the way to interact with ordinary Americans, providing plenty of photo opportunities for local and national media documenting the trip.
Obama ate breakfast at Ann’s Place with three employees of a nearby Goodyear plant, according to the Obama campaign. The White House press pool report described Obama as approaching a table of men wearing baseball hats and joking, “This is a section they call the troublemakers.”
Motioning to the press corps, the president then added: “Don’t do anything wrong while these guys have the cameras on. They’ll catch you.”