ISTANBUL: The adopted daughter of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, was killed in a traffic accident, her son said on Turkish television on Thursday. Ulku Adatepe was 79.
Adatepe died on Wednesday when she was thrown from a vehicle after the driver lost control of the car while driving on a motorway from Istanbul to the capital Ankara, the daily newspaper Milliyet reported.
Adatepe’s husband and the driver were hurt but survived the crash, which occurred in the northwest province of Sakarya. Her son Ahmet Dogancay confirmed the news on NTV television.
Ataturk, who led Turkey to victory in 1923 in the War of Independence, served as the new republic’s first president until his death in 1938.
He is still revered by many Turks as a hero of almost mythic stature for saving Turkey from obsolescence after European powers partitioned it following World War One. He is also credited with bold reforms that put Turkey on a secular path after the collapse of the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
Ataturk took in Adatepe, the daughter of his mother’s foster child and a stationmaster, when she was 9-months-old and raised her at the presidential palace in Ankara until his death.
She was the youngest of Ataturk’s six adopted daughters and one son, according to Milliyet.
“She stayed at his side, as his inseparable pet, until a few weeks before his death,” wrote Andrew Mango in his definitive 1999 biography of the soldier-cum-statesman “Ataturk”.
Young Adatepe traveled the country with her father and appears in an illustration on the cover of the alphabet textbook “Alfabe”, in which Ataturk is depicted teaching her the new Latin alphabet that replaced Ottoman Turkish in Arabic script, one of the Westernising reforms the president spearheaded.