The woman who made waves as the first female major party vice-presidential candidate, Geraldine A. Ferraro, died Sunday in Boston at age 75.
She died from complications relating to the blood cancer she had fought for the last 12 years, according to a statement from her family.
Ferraro was a congresswoman from Queens when former Vice-President Walter Mondale picked her as his running mate in the 1984 elections, reported The New York Times. Although the Mondale/Ferraro ticket lost badly, for many women just seeing her nominated as a candidate for national office--64 years after women first claimed the right to vote--was a success.
Ben W. Heineman Jr. was part of the team that helped prepare Ferraro for her debate with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. "[T]here was no difference between the public person and the private person," he wrote in an article for The Atlantic, calling Ferraro "a tough, smart, savvy, fearless, funny woman who was totally authentic."
Ferraro was not only the first female to run for national office but the first Italian American--a categorization which was unfortunately tainted by campaign rumors of ties to organized crime, The New York Times reported.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Ferraro was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University from after her and Mondale's failed bid until 1992, when she waged an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate nomination. After that, she worked for a time as an advocate for Yugoslavian rape victims, and served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council from 1994-95. Another unsuccessful bid for a Senate nomination followed.
Although her political ambitions were never realized, and controversy continued to follow her, Ferraro will be remembered overwhelmingly for her role in breaking down the gender barrier standing between women and the White House.