Former first lady Melania Trump remembered her mother Amalija Knavs for her passion for fashion and family, celebrating the Slovenia native’s immigration to the U.S. to be with her grandson during a heartfelt eulogy at her funeral Thursday morning.
“My mother, the epitome of elegance and grace, exemplified the essence of a true woman. Her love for her husband, Viktor, my father; Ines, my sister; and me was boundless. Her nurturing spirit had no limits, creating a legacy that will last for generations. She showered her grandson, Barron, with affection, illuminating his world with love, tender care, and unwavering devotion,” Melania said at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. “She embodied the best mother, wife, grandmother, mother-in-law, a true beacon of love and luxury in our lives.”
“With each step she took, she embraced the privilege bestowed upon her and, in time, the privilege of becoming a U.S. citizen. She vowed to contribute to make a difference in the world,” Melania said of her mother, who died Jan. 9 at age 78 in Miami after an undisclosed illness. “Filled with uncertainty, she knew an exquisite sense of pride as my husband became the President of the United States and as I embarked on a grand odyssey, traveling the corners of the globe as the first lady. My father, my sister, Barron, Donald and I will forever remember the echoes of our laughter that we share with our beloved Babi over family dinners and travels. Her conversations flowed effortlessly, adorned with grace and charm. No topic was off limits.
“In her presence, the world seemed to shimmer with radiant joy. She was not just a friend, but a confidant. A ray of light in the darkest of days. In her company, I found peace knowing that she would always be there to listen. She celebrated our successes and provided unwavering support during chaotic times. Our bond was unbreakable. A testament to the power of a true love for one another. She was my dear friend. An irreplaceable treasure. A gift bestowed upon me by the universe. And for that, I am entirely grateful. Rest in peace, my beloved mommy.”
The former first lady also recalled how her mother taught her to cook and inspired her interest in fashion with tales of glamorous travels to Paris and neighboring European cities and spending late nights together sketching designs and patterns, ultimately creating pieces akin to “artwork.”
“She was a creator of dreams, and I am forever grateful for the beauty she brought into my life,” Melania said, describing how her mother “balanced the demands of motherhood with grace and poise. From managing the household to pursuing her own ambition in fashion, she never ceased to amaze with her resilience and determination.”
Fox News had been granted exclusive access to the funeral, and Melania was to be the only one giving a eulogy.
Former President Trump had acknowledged the passing of his mother-in-law during a speech Monday night after sweeping the Iowa caucuses.
“I think most importantly, I want to thank my incredible wife, first lady, I’ll say former and maybe future, but more important than Melania, I want to thank her incredible, beautiful mother who passed away a few days ago. And she’s up there, way up there. She’s looking down, and she’s so proud of us,” Trump said. “And I just want to say to Amalija, you are special, one of the most special people I’ve ever known. And that was a tough period of time for the family. But she — she’s amazing. She was amazing.”
“So I just want to thank what she’s done for our family and her husband, who’s home right now and very lonely. He’s a lonely man, but he’s going to be okay, Viktor. They’re great people, great, great parents to all of us, really great parents, but also to Barron. Boy, did she take care of Barron. That’s how he got so tall. He only ate her food,” Trump said. “And I want to thank my family. Generally, they’ve worked so hard and they’ve taken so much abuse for being good people.”
Donald and Melania Trump were married at the same Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in 2005, and the former president sometimes attends services with the congregation.
During the Trump presidency, the first lady’s mother lived in New York along with Melania’s father, Viktor Knavs, and occasionally appeared at the White House. Amalija was at a 2018 ceremony where the first lady debuted her “Be Best” public awareness campaign to help children.
The Knavses raised Melania, born Melanija, and her older sister, Ines, in the rural industrial town of Sevnica while Slovenia was under Communist rule as part of Yugoslavia. Amalija was a textile worker and homemaker, while her husband worked as a chauffeur before becoming a car dealer.
The former first lady, 53, attended high school in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, and changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modeling. She settled in New York in 1996 and met Trump in 1998. She sponsored her parents’ immigration to the U.S., and they became citizens at a New York City courthouse in 2018, while Trump was president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.