At 100, Granny D's Trek Finally Ends

Doris Haddock, better known as Granny D, passed away this past week. She was 100. At age 89, the political activist made national headlines as she began a 14-month trek across the United States to raise support for campaign finance reform. New Hampshire Public Radio's Dan Gorenstein reports.

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Later this afternoon, family and friends will say a final goodbye to Doris Haddock, better known as Granny D. The political activist, who died last week, was 100 years old. She made national headlines a decade ago as she walked across the United States to raise support for campaign finance reform. She began that 14-month trek at age 89.

New Hampshire Public Radio's Dan Gorenstein has this remembrance.

DAN GORENSTEIN: Doris Haddock came in an unusual package - slender, five feet tall, slightly bent in the back. But Democratic State Senator Martha Fuller Clark says there was the grit, too.

State Senator MARTHA FULLER CLARK (Democrat, New Hampshire): Well, I think it was this contrast between how fragile she was physically and how impassioned she was in terms of her causes.

GORENSTEIN: Her most passionate cause, of course, campaign finance reform.

Ms. DORIS HADDOCK (Political Activist): I think that it is the most important societal problem that we have in this country today, because we are letting big money interests take over our elections.

GORENSTEIN: That was Haddock in 2001 after shed finished her walk. She said she worried with fewer people voting, the nation was letting democracy slip slide away. But she believed squeezing big money out of politics would help bring those people back.

Ms. HADDOCK: They feel they dont have anyone to vote for. They feel that they have no access to their representatives or to their senators. And they just feel that they're outgunned, outspoken.

GORENSTEIN: Democrats and Republicans were quick to lament Haddock's death in New Hampshire. GOP State Senator Sharon Carson says you didn't have to agree with Granny D to respect her.

State Senator SHARON CARSON (Republican, New Hampshire): Granny D was just a citizen who saw an issue, and she ran with it; in fact, she walked with it across the country. So, she gets a lot of respect for the fact that Granny D walked the walk and talked the talk.

GORENSTEIN: Despite all the recognition, Haddock fell short of her goal. She didn't live to see the kind of reform she wanted nationally or even in her home state. But New Hampshire political reporter Kevin Landrigan says Haddock seemed to understand this was a long fight.

Mr. KEVIN LANDRIGAN (Political Reporter): She was so excited by the Supreme Court decision where the justices essentially said corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money. She believed fervently that the abuse that would occur would enhance the chances for the ultimate goal, for public financing long-term.

GORENSTEIN: Haddock herself said she learned an important lesson as she put one foot in front of another over her 3,200-mile walk.

Ms. HADDOCK: If you can possibly give yourself at your ending days to something that's worthwhile, you should do it. I think everybody needs to have a cause.

GORENSTEIN: The day after she died, one old friend admitted she'll never have Haddock's passion, but thanks to Haddock she'll keep reminding herself to have a good attitude and to have fun.

For NPR News, I'm Dan Gorenstein in Concord, New Hampshire.

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