Housewife was founder of National Grandparents Day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2005

Grandparents Day was the brainchild of a West Virginia housewife named Marian McQuade.

A mother of 15, grandmother of 40 and great-grandma to eight children, this is a lady who knows a thing or two about the importance of family.

McQuade launched a campaign in 1970 to set aside a day to honor grandparents, and got civic, business, political and church leaders to join the bandwagon.

The first Grandparents Day was proclaimed in 1973 by the governor of West Virginia.

In that same year, Senator Jennings Randolph introduced a Grandparents Day resolution into the U.S. Senate.

It sat in committee – and sat and sat. Finally, McQuade and her team turned to the media to gain support.

In a grassroots effort, they contacted political leaders in every state. They also sent letters to churches, businesses, and numerous national organizations interested in senior citizens.

After five years of concerted effort, the U.S. Congress proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation in 1978.

McQuade sees Grandparents Day as having a threefold purpose: to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children and to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

Grandparents Day, she says, is a time for families to gather, enjoy treasured family stories, share old photos and pass on special talents to younger generations.

"Most important, Grandparents Day can signify a loving spirit that lives within us throughout the year – a spirit of love and respect for our elders," McQuade says.