The founder of National Grandparent's Day,w hich will be celebrated this Sunday, is a West Virginia native. Hailing from Oak Hill, W. Va., Marian McQuade has been recognized as the drivcing force behind the day.
McQuade was the grandmother of more than 40 grandchildren, the mother of 15 children. Her daaughter, Ruth McQuade, of Shepherdstown, shared this week about her mother's goal in pushing to have national recognition of the day.
"She saw it as a way to learn more about one's hertiage, from grandparents," McQuade said. "She regularly visited the elderly and was concerned about them."
According to the nNational Grandparent's Day website, McQuade made it her goal to educate the youth in the community about the important contributions seniors have made throughout history. She also urged the youth to "adopt" a grandparent, not just for one day a year, but rather for a lifetime.
A resolution was introduced in 1973 by Sen. Jennings Randolph to make Grandparent's Day a national holiday. State Gov. Arch Moore had already proclaimed the day a state holiday at McQuade's urging.
When Senator Randolph's resolution in the U.S. Senate died in committee, Marian McQuade organized supporters and began contacting governors, senators and congressmen in all 50 states, her daughter shared. She secured resolutions and proclamations from 43 states which she forwarded to Randolph.
In February 1977, Senator Randolph, with the concurrence of many other senators, introduced a joint resolution to the senate requesting the president to "issue annually a proclamation designating the first Sunday of September after Labor Day of each year as 'National Grandparents' Day'." Congress passed the legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents' Day and, on Aug. 3, 1978, then-President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation.
The statute cites the day's purpose: "...to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer".
Information garnered about McQuade from the National Grandparents Day website shows that she began a campaign in 1970 to set aside the day for grandparents; yet her work with senior citizens dated back to 1956, beginning with the Past Eighty Party, (originated by Jim Comstock, editor of the West Virginia Hillbilly). Mrs. McQuade has worked in several states with seniors. In 1971, she was elected vice chairman of the West Virginia Committee on Aging and appointed as delegate to the White House Conference on Aging by Gov. Moore.
In addition, in 1972 Mrs. McQuade's efforts helped persuade President Richard Nixon to proclaim a National Shut-in Day.