National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

A native of Fayette County, Marian McQuade and her husband Joe are the parents of 15 children, 40 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Mrs. McQuade began a campaign in 1973 to set aside a day for grandparents, but her work with senior citizens dates back to 1956, beginning with the Past Eighty Party, originated by Jim Comstock, editor of the West Virginia Hillbilly, a well-known publication. She has worked in several states with seniors and in 1971 was elected Vice-Chairman of the West Virginia Committee on Aging and appointed as delegate to the White House Conference on Aging by Governor Arch A. Moore.

Having served as President of the Vocational Rehabilitation Foundation, Vice-President of the West Virginia Health Systems Agency, appointed to the Nursing Home Licensing Board and having served as Co-chairman for the Bi-Centennial Centenarian Search for the West Virginia Commission on Aging, Mrs. McQuade has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of senior citizens and those less fortunate than herself. The promotional packet she mails out includes a personal letter, a history of the event, facts about Mrs. McQuade, suggested activities, the day's purposes, a copy of "Beatitudes for Friends of the Aged," and a family tree chart.

Hallmark Cards requested permission from Mrs. McQuade to publish specially designed greeting cards, which the founder described as "a very nice line." The firm volunteered a royalty to defray expenses, but the McQuades declined. "It would take away from the meaning," she said with great sincerity. "From the beginning I didn't want to make money, and I won't accept donations."

"I am the luckiest person in the world," she declares with conviction ringing in her voice. "I have a wonderful, understanding husband, my children are all healthy and well, and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren brighten my days. Then I have my work promoting Grandparents Day, working with seniors, helping Jim Comstock with the Past 80 Party, and visiting the sick and lonely in hospitals and nursing homes. What more could I want?" Indeed, giving of herself is this cheerful but determined native West Virginian's greatest joy. And because she cares so much, the nation now has a permanent way to recognize the positive contribution of grandparents everywhere.

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