Ivana Trump, the first wife of former U.S. President Donald Trump and the mother of his three oldest children, who helped her husband build some of his signature buildings including Trump Tower, died on Thursday at age 73, Donald Trump announced.
“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City,” Trump said in a post on the social medial platform Truth Social.
The couple married in 1977 and divorced in 1992. They had three children together: Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric.
“Ivana Trump was a survivor. She fled from communism and embraced this country. She taught her children about grit and toughness, compassion and determination,” the Trump family said in a statement. She grew up under Communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia.
Neither the Trump family statement nor the post from the former president mentioned the cause of death, but a police spokesperson said she was found dead on the stairs inside her apartment and that foul play was not suspected.
The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, said it appeared accidental and she may have fallen down the stairs.
The Fire Department of New York said paramedics responded to a call to her apartment for a cardiac arrest.
She was born Ivana Marie Zelnickova on Feb. 20, 1949, in Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia, the town where she grew up near Prague that is now known as Zlin in the Czech Republic.
She spent much of her youth in competitive skiing for the Czechoslovakian national system, later competing for Charles University in Prague, where she earned a master’s degree in physical education and languages, according to her biography posted by CMG Worldwide, a business agency for celebrities that represented her.
After university, she followed her love interest at the time, professional skier George Syrovatka, to Canada, and later began modeling for the Audrey Morris agency in Montreal, CMG said.
While on a modeling trip to New York in 1976, she met Donald Trump, CMG said, and they were married nine months later.
Ivana Trump played a role in building up the Trump media image in the 1980s, when they were one of New York City’s most prominent power couples.
While Donald Trump took the credit for his early success breaking into the highly competitive Manhattan real estate market, Ivana Trump also filled an important role in the family business soon after their marriage, the New York Times reported.