Sat, Jan 22, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Israeli president’s wife dies at age 87

AFP, JERUSALEM

Sonia Peres poses for a portrait on Sept. 1, 1985, in this photo released by the Israeli Government Press Office on Thursday. The wife of Israeli President Shimon Peres died on Thursday at the age of 87.

Photo: REUTERS

The wife of Israeli President Shimon Peres died at her home in Tel Aviv on Thursday, her family said in a statement.

Most media gave her age as 87, although no date of birth was listed on official sites. Interviewed on public radio, her son-in-law, Rafi Walden, said she appeared to have died in her sleep.

“It is with great sadness that we confirm news of the death of our dear Sonia,” he said.

“She was found lifeless in her bed,” he added, saying her body was discovered by a grandson who was paying a visit.

The radio said she had suffered heart problems for the past 20 years and was hospitalized repeatedly.

A statement by Walden in the name of the family, distributed by the president’s office, said that she would be buried yesterday morning in a private ceremony at the Ben-Shemen youth village, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem,”where she grew up and was educated.”

The Web site of the Jerusalem Post said Sonia had declined to join her husband in the Jerusalem residence when he took up the largely ceremonial post in 2007, and that the two had lived apart ever since. She was reported to have been too ill to attend his inauguration.

The couple were married in 1945, according to media reports.

In an interview with Yediot Aharonot newspaper last year, Peres spoke of life away from the family home.

“Sometimes I do get very lonely,” he said.

Asked if he missed domestic life, he replied: “Yes. The smell of home, her chicken soup. I miss her company. She was and is the love of my life.”

According to Peres’s personal Web site, the couple have three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The Web site of the daily Haaretz said that throughout her husband’s 60-year political career, including three terms as prime minister, Sonia shunned the spotlight and remained a very private person.

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