Former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY), who in 1984 became the first woman on a major party national ticket as the Democratic nominee for vice president, has died at age 75 from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for 12 years, her family announced in a statement.
“Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice,” her family said. “To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family. Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed.”
Ferraro was first elected to the House in 1978, after having served as a prosecutor. In 1984, she became the first woman on a national ticket when former Vice President Walter Mondale (D) selected her as his running mate. President Ronald Reagan, however, won re-election in a 59%-41% national landslide, and the Mondale-Ferraro Democratic ticket only carried the District of Columbia and a narrow win in Mondale’s home state of Minnesota. After leaving Congress, she served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
President Barack Obama said Ferraro would be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women and Americans of all backgrounds and all walks of life.
“Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, member of Congress, or candidate for vice president, Geraldine fought to uphold America’s founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all,” Obama said in a statement. “And as our Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world. Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, John Zaccaro, her children and grandchildren, and their entire family.”
Here is the Ferraro family’s full statement:
Statement from the Zaccaro Family
March 26, 2011
Geraldine A. Ferraro, who earned a place in history in 1984 as the first woman and first Italian-American to run on a major party national ticket, has died, according to her family. Ms. Ferraro passed away today at Massachusetts General Hospital, surrounded by her loved ones. The cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for twelve years. Ms. Ferraro was seventy-five years old.
Her family said “Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice. To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family. Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed.”
Ms. Ferraro was born on August 26th, 1935 - Women’s Equality Day - in Newburgh, New York to Antonetta Corrieri and Dominick Ferraro. She is survived by her husband of 50 years, John A. Zaccaro; her three children and their spouses, Donna Zaccaro Ullman and Paul Ullman, John 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.