Housewife led fight for a holiday for grandparents
by Jennifer Cohron
Sep 09, 2012 | 1366 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marian McQuade led the effort to establish National Grandparents Day. Photo special to the Eagle
Marian McQuade led the effort to establish National Grandparents Day. Photo special to the Eagle
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In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day to be National Grandparents Day. The establishment of the holiday was the culmination of a grassroots campaign started by Marian McQuade of West Virginia eight years earlier.

McQuade was a lifetime advocate for senior citizens, according to a biography listed on the official National Grandparents Day website.

McQuade helped establish a Past 80 Party for the state’s octogenarians in 1956.

She later served as vice-chair of the West Virginia Commission on Aging and was appointed as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.

President Richard Nixon’s proclamation of a National Shut-In Day in 1972 was largely due to McQuade’s efforts.

In 1970, McQuade began pushing legislators to set aside a day to celebrate grandparents. West Virginia became the first state to do so in 1973.

That same year, a Grandparents Day resolution was introduced by U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph but failed to generate any interest in committee.

Soon after, 49 governors received petitons from McQuade encouraging them to recognize Grandparents Day, and 43 sent proclamations back to her.

When asked about founding National Grandparents Day, McQuade called herself “the luckiest person in the world.”

“I have a wonderful and understanding husband, my children are all healthy and well, and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren brighten my days. And then I have my work promoting Grandparents Day, working with seniors and visiting the sick and lonely in hospitals and nursing homes. What more could I want?” McQuade said.

McQuade has been recognized in a variety of ways for her efforts, including a postage stamp bearing her likeness in 1989.

McQuade had 15 children, 43 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren when she passed away in 2008 at 91.

Several of her children and grandchildren are now involved with the National Grandparents Day Council.