Geraldine Ferraro Dies At 75; First Woman VP Candidate - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Geraldine Ferraro Dies At 75; First Woman VP Candidate

MSNBC - Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic congresswoman who became the first woman on a major party presidential ticket as Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984, died Saturday at the age of 75, NBC News confirmed.

Ferraro died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston of a blood cancer after a 12-year illness, according to a statement from her family cited by various news organizations.

Ferraro was a telegenic, articulate and fiery three-term New York congresswoman when Mondale picked her from the male-dominated U.S. House of Representatives. Ferraro's presence on the Democratic ticket generated excitement on the campaign trail, particularly among females of all ages.

Yet on Election Day, Republican President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush defeated Mondale and Ferraro in a landslide, carrying every state except Mondale's home state of Minnesota.

In delivering her concession speech that night, Ferraro urged Americans to support the re-elected president, and then saluted Mondale for helping women reach new political heights.

"For two centuries, candidates have run for president. Not one from a major party ever asked a woman to be his running mate — until Walter Mondale," she said.

"Campaigns, even if you lose them, do serve a purpose," Ferraro said. "My candidacy has said the days of discrimination are numbered. American women will never be second-class citizens again."

Though best known for her political achievements, Ferraro started her career in public service upon graduation from Marymount Manhattan College in Manhattan, where she received her B.A. in English in 1952.

She became a New York City schoolteacher, teaching second grade at P.S. 85 in Astoria, Queens, part of the district she would later represent in Congress. While teaching, Ms. Ferraro earned a law degree from Fordham Law School.

Ferraro spent 13 years at home raising her children, during which time she also practiced law pro bono in Queens County Family Court on behalf of women and children and served as President of the Queens County Women's Bar Association.

In 1974, she was sworn in as an Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney's Office. There, she started the Special Victims Bureau, where she supervised the prosecution of sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence and violent crimes against senior citizens.

Ferraro was first elected to Congress from New York's Ninth Congressional District in Queens in 1978, and served three terms in the House of Representatives before being tapped for the Vice Presidential run.

From 1988 to 1992, Ms. Ferraro served as a Fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

In October 1993, she was appointed the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission by President Clinton, and served in that position through 1996. During her tenure, the Commission for the first time condemned anti-Semitism as a human rights violation and prevented China from blocking a motion criticizing its human rights record.

From 1996 until 1998, Ms. Ferraro was a co-host of Crossfire, a political interview program, on CNN. She was also a partner in the CEO Perspective Group, a consulting firm which advises top executives.

In 1992 and 1998, Ms. Ferraro was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination to the United States Senate.

Ms. Ferraro was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in December 1998.

She publicly disclosed the illness in June 2001, when she testified in Congressional hearings for passage of the Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act. In addition to increasing the amount of government funding of blood cancers, the Act created the Geraldine Ferraro Cancer Education Program, which directed the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish an education program for patients of blood cancers and the general public.

Ferraro is survived by her husband of 50 years, John A. Zaccaro; her three children and their spouses, Donna Zaccaro Ullman and Paul Ullman, John Zaccaro and Anne Rasmussen Zaccaro, and Laura Zaccaro Lee and Josh Lee; and her eight grandchildren, Matthew and Natalie Ullman, Elizabeth, Samantha and John Zaccaro, and Daisy, Alexander and Jane Lee. Ms. Ferraro resided in New York City.

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