In Memorium: Geraldine Ferraro *updated with statement from Secretary Clinton*
Geraldine Ferraro has died of complications of cancer at the age of 75.
She was the type of Democratic leader that we don’t see a whole lot of these days- she stood on principle, spoke out even when it garnered controversy, but was also willing to listen to opposing views and her politics reflected that.
Ferraro will go down in history as the first woman to be named as VP on a major party ticket in 1984 after serving three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. After formally leaving elected office she worked her butt off to try to ensure that another woman (Hillary) would go much, much farther than she did and become the first woman President.
When I was relatively young she was a political hero of mine and I followed her career obsessively and I was devastated when the Mondale/Ferraro ticket lost in 1984. I wasn’t old enough to vote at the time but my father would dutifully drive me down to the Philadelphia office of the Democratic Party to volunteer on weekends- mostly licking envelopes and putting the wood handles on the Mondale/Ferraro campaign signs that were used in rallies, but I was just happy to be there and be part of it even in such a tiny way. To this day I remember that Democratic Convention when Ferraro gave her speech- I remember what she was wearing (white), I remember her historic speech and I remember how excited women in particular were about the Democratic ticket that year.
On a family trip in about 1985 or 1986 to Hawaii we stopped in San Francisco on the way back and again, my father tolerated my political interests by taking me to see where the 1984 convention had been held because I just wanted to see it because it was the place where Geraldine Ferraro had stood and accepted the nomination. So we stood there and looked at an empty convention center and I searched San Francisco for 1984 election memorabilia, which I still have to this day. I collected and saved every magazine with her on the cover (kind of like I do with Hillary), I read her autobiography and everything that was written about her and I thought that one day I wanted to enter politics- all because of Gerry Ferraro.
Watching Ferraro accept the parties nomination in 1984 made it seem that the highest office in the land was now within our grasp. *sigh*
She will be missed.
UPDATE:Secretary just released a statement minutes ago:
“Gerry Ferraro was one of a kind — tough, brilliant, and never afraid to speak her mind or stand up for what she believed in — a New York icon and a true American original. She was a champion for women and children and for the idea that there should be no limits on what every American can achieve. The daughter of an Italian immigrant family, she rose to become the first woman ever nominated to the national ticket by a major political party. She paved the way for a generation of female leaders and put the first cracks in America’s political glass ceiling. She believed passionately that politics and public service was about making a difference for the people she represented as a congresswoman and Ambassador.
For us, Gerry was above all a friend and companion. From the rough-and-tumble of political campaigns to the important work of international diplomacy, we were honored to have her by our side. She was a tireless voice for human rights and helped lead the American delegation to the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Through it all, she was a loyal friend, trusted confidante, and valued colleague.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Gerry’s husband John, her children and grandchildren, and their entire family.”