Ferraro was fine example

Before there was Sarah Palin. Before there was Hillary Clinton. Before women seeking high level elected positions were truly taken seriously, there was Geraldine Ferraro.

Known as the first female to ever run for vice president of the United States on a major party ticket, she and Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale lost to President Ronald Reagan by one of the largest landslides ever in 1984, Ferarro succumbed to a 12-year battle with blood cancer on Saturday at the age of 75.

The daughter of Italian immigrants, Ferraro studied hard, graduated high school at the age of 16 and won a full college scholarship.

While working as a public school teacher, she earned her jurist doctorate and from 1961 to 1974 practiced law, had three children and worked with her husband in the real estate business.

Ferrero became an assistant district attorney in 1978, won a seat in Congress, and was re-elected in 1980 and 1982.

As Mondale’s running mate, Ferraro was subjected to ridicule by her opponents, just as a second woman up for the vice presidency would be 24 years later. Like Palin frequently did in her bid with John McCain, Ferrero often overshadowed and outshined Mondale during their campaign.

Ferrero became a permanent figure on the national stage. She held some of the most liberal views expressed during her time. She also maintained many of the same traditional family values as the president she and her running mate lost to 27 years ago.

Ferraro blazed a trail for women. It could be argued that her influence set the tone for Mary Landrieu to be elected senator from Louisiana, for Charlotte Randolph to secure office as president of Lafourche Parish, for Arlanda Williams to find her place as a councilwoman in Terrebonne Parish and for Claire Sawyer to be able to hold position on the city council of Patterson.

Mostly, Ferraro was part of a generation that could passionately argue a position without making personal assaults on political opponents. She always conducted herself with dignity.

The most ardent conservatives would have to give her credit for how she lived and treated others even if they strongly disagreed with her positions.

Ferraro is survived by her husband of 50 years, three children, eight grandchildren and millions of Americans who would do well to learn from her example.