She may not have been born in Queens, but Geraldine Ferraro was a Queensite through and through.
“I last saw Gerry a few months ago when they named a post office for her in Long Island City,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “Obviously suffering physically, she was as dynamic as ever when she spoke to accept the honor.”
The trailblazing Ferraro, born of Italian immigrants on August 26, 1935, married John Zaccaro in 1960. They settled in Forest Hills and she began her career in public service in 1974 as an assistant district attorney in Queens. She established and headed the Special Victims Bureau, which prosecutes sex crimes and cases involving child abuse and crimes against the elderly.
“She was a trailblazer in so many respects – not the least of which was in our office,” said Brown. “She was one of just a handful of women prosecutors when she joined our offices in the mid-1970s. Today, over 50 percent of our assistants are women.”
After graduating Fordham Law School, Ferraro taught at an Astoria public school before joining the DA’s office.
In 1978, she ran for Congress as a Democrat and so her long political career began.
When she was first elected, she requested to sit on the post office and Civil Service Committee – not one of the most-requested committees in the House.
However, one of the major issues affecting the communities she served at that time was trying to get a new zip code. Ferraro went the U.S. Postmaster General shortly after getting elected and was told she needed to get 50,000 signatures in order for it to be considered. Sure enough, she acquired the signatures and the community received a new zip code.
“I became the Queen of Queens,” Ferraro said.
She served for six years, representing Forest Hills and fighting for women’s rights, and in 1984, she paved the way for women everywhere by being tapped by Walter Mondale as his vice president in his failed bid for the presidency.
Ferraro became the first female vice president nominee for a major party in U.S. history.
Financial questions plagued Ferraro and her husband, however, and she left office in 1985.
She penned a memoir soon after, and the now-author continued to work in the private sector before being named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1994. Ferraro also did a stint as co-host for CNN.
Last year – on her birthday – she attended the ceremony to rename the post office in her honor.
“I’m hoping that in the future when young people look up at my name and ask ‘who is she,’ and someone says ‘oh she was a member of Congress,’ that they might be curious about the institution that I so loved and what it does to make America great,” said Ferraro at the time.
Ferraro passed away from multiple myeloma on March 26. She was 75 years old and has been battling the disease for 12 years. A private funeral service was set for Thursday, March 31 at the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan.