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In Memorium: Geraldine Ferraro *updated with statement from Secretary Clinton*

March 26, 2011

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.”

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Thain permalink
    March 26, 2011 1:31 pm

    Thanks for this. To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Ferraro other than the fact that she was the first woman VP candidate on a major party ticket. I wasn’t even alive back then but I can imagine how exciting it was- it probably felt a lot like it felt to watch Hillary run for POTUS.

    My thoughts are with her family.

  2. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    March 26, 2011 1:39 pm

    I, too, was not alive when she was nominated, but I have read about her and admired her very much. That was a lovely statement, Stacy.

  3. HillaryFan permalink
    March 26, 2011 2:30 pm

    God bless you Geraldine and my thoughts and prayers are with her family. Your tribute to Geraldine is wonderful Stacy, I’m so glad you personalized it because I was old enough to vote in that 1984 election and I was very excited about it as well. I’m sure Gerry would be love to know a girl not old enough to vote became interested in politics because of her and I’m sure there were many who felt that way.

    In some ways she reminds me of Hillary, or Hillary reminds me of her, because they both are strong women who succeeded in politics despite it still being predominantly a mans sport, they both are very outspoken and they both were very passionate about particular causes. Ferraro, like Hillary, was also a very good speaker both when she gave prepared remarks and when she was answering questions off-the-cuff.

  4. PYW permalink
    March 26, 2011 3:59 pm

    I’ve always been a big Ferraro admirer, and this is very sad news. Her family is in my prayers.

  5. Vcal permalink
    March 26, 2011 4:23 pm

    I’m sorry for this loss.she was a great person and a strong Hillary supporter . hillary has lost these 2 years severalof her great supporters.god bless her and her family!

  6. Terry permalink
    March 26, 2011 6:30 pm

    What a wonderful “personal” note about your remembrance of Ms. Ferraro. I hope you post it elsewhere so others can share your story. I always remembered how tough, smart and poised Geraldine was in her “not so easy” life. She always stood up straight and spoke her mind and cut through the nonsense. It was delightful seeing her commentary from time to time during the 2008 democratic primaries.

    For those of you that are so young, try to learn about, remember and honor the work of those that went before you. The seventies, which Geraldine emerged from was the era of the Equal Rights Amendment which raised the consciousness of women everywhere to women’s issues. It probably failed because the peak of feminism was over just when the ERA was gaining steam.

    For about a decade there from about 1975 to 1985 or so a whole bevy of women, both republican and democrat emerged in the political arena. Some were elected, some stood behind their elected husbands. Betty Ford was one who broke the mold, certainly Geraldine Ferraro showed great intelligence and courage, even Nancy Reagan was a power behind the scene and of course the irrepressible Bela Abzug led the pack. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. The wonderfully funny and pithy Anne Richardson was governor of Texas. Internationally the brilliant but warm Golda Meir had just led Israel and Margaret Thatcher was PM of Great Britian.

    Whether you agreed with them or not these were principled and smart ladies who yielded real power and had something to say. With Hillary’s run in 2008 I was hoping for a renaissance of those times but look what we are stuck with now, dumb and dumber: Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and that woman who might have been a witch from Delaware.

  7. March 26, 2011 7:06 pm

    OT: Just a reminder- Secy Clinton will be on three Sunday talk shows- Face the Nation, Meet the Press and ABC’s ‘This Week.’

  8. March 26, 2011 7:27 pm

    Stacy,

    Thanks for the lovely Tribute of Geraldine Ferraro. RIP

  9. Thomas permalink
    March 27, 2011 8:37 am

    First of all I just want to say how much I enjoy this blog. I’ve been coming here for some time and your mix of Hillary news, commentary and foreign policy information is superb. This is far more than a fan site- I can come here and actually learn something.

    Your tribute to Ms. Ferraro was wonderful. Thank you!

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