Doris "Granny D" Haddock, whose 3,200-mile walk across the United States at the age of 90 drew thousands of activists into the movement for political reform, has died Tuesday evening at the age of 100.
The Dublin, New Hampshire, grandmother’s death came ten years and ten days after she finished the remarkable two-year walk, which she undertook to promote the passage of campaign finance reform legislation (in particular the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law).
On March 1, 2000, when she finished that walk in Washington, Granny D. told a crowd of more than 2,000 cheering supporters–including a dozen members of Congress–who had gathered on the Capitol steps:
This morning we began our walk among the graves of Arlington–so that those spirits, some of whom may be old friends, might join us today and that we might ask of them now, Did you, brave spirits, give your lives for a government where we might stand together as free and equal citizens, or did you give your lives so that laws might be sold to the highest bidder, turning this temple of our Fair Republic into a bawdy house where anything and everything is done for a price? We hear your answers in the wind.
Former President Jimmy Carter hailed Granny D. as "a true patriot" and declared that "our nation has been blessed by her remarkable life."
Haddock’s walk made her a national celebrity, who was hailed by presidents and senators. Yet, she did not rest on the laurels. Rather, Granny D. ramped up her activism, spending her 90s as one of the most outspoken critics of the war in Iraq and a passionate advocate for holding former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney to account for the lies that sprawned the invasion and occupation.
Granny D. even ran for the U.S. Senate, earning the Democratic nomination as an anti-war challenger to U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire.
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who mounted an anti-war presidential campaign in 2004 and appeared frequently with Haddock said Wednesday: "Granny D was a great American. She had a powerful vision for an America in which every citizen has a voice in a government free of corporate control. She will be missed, but her powerful spirit will live on."
I have covered Granny D. since she started her walk. We have appeared together at forums, rallies and events across the country. The annual Fighting Bob Fest chautauqua in Baraboo, Wisconsin, which Ed Garvey and I have have a hand in organizing since 2002, frequently featured Granny D. as a mainstage speaker. Even as she approached the century mark, she could bring a crowd of 10,000 to its feet with oratory that was part William Jennings Bryan, part nurturing grandmother, part scolding schoolmarm–and all good.