Pioneering Rep. Geraldine Ferraro dies

March 26, 2011 at 5:52 PM
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BOSTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Geraldine Ferraro, who broke new ground as Walter Mondale's running mate in the 1984 U.S. presidential election, died Saturday of multiple myeloma. She was 75.

Ferraro's family announced she lost a decade-long battle with the blood cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, USA Today reported.

Ferraro, who in 1984 was in her third term in Congress from a New York City district, was the first woman to appear on a major party ticket in a presidential election. While the Democratic ticket carried only Mondale's native Minnesota, losing in a landslide to Ronald Reagan, Ferraro's run broke ground for a generation of political women.

She was used to being a pioneer. After graduating from college in 1952, Ferraro attended Fordham Law School while teaching school and was one of three women in her class.

Three days after Ferraro passed the bar exam, she married John Zaccaro, although she continued to use her maiden name professionally.

"Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life," President Barack Obama said in a statement release by the White House.

"Geraldine fought to uphold America's founding ideals of equality, justice and opportunity for all. And as our ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world."

Before, during and after her years in Congress, Ferraro was concerned with women's rights and social justice. She represented women and children pro bono in family court while raising her family, established the Special Victims Bureau in the Queens District Attorney's Office and set up a flextime system for federal employees.

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