A Brief History of
National Grandparents Day





Founding Advisory



This day has a threefold purpose:
To honor grandparents

To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children.

To help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

Grandparents Day First Sunday After Labor Day

In 1970, a West Virginia housewife, Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, initiated a campaign to set aside a special day just for Grandparents.   Through concerted efforts on the part of civic, business, church, and political leaders, this campaign expanded statewide. Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) was especially instrumental in the project. The first Grandparents Day was proclaimed in 1973 in West Virginia by Governor Arch Moore. Also in 1973, Senator Randolph introduced a Grandparents Day resolution in the United States Senate. The resolution languished in committee.
Mrs. McQuade and her team turned to the media to garner support. They also began contacting governors, senators, congressmen in every state. And they sent letters to churches, businesses, and numerous national organizations interested in senior citizens. In 1978, five years after its West Virginia inception, the United StatesCongress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The proclamation was signed by President Jimmy Carter. (September was chosen for the holiday, to signify the "autumn years" of life.)
Today this event, begun by only a few, is observed by millions throughout the United States.

Facts About The Founder of Grandparents Day

A native of Fayette County, Marian McQuade and her husband Joe are the parents of 15 children. They have 40 grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.
Mrs. McQuade began a campaign in 1970 to set aside a day for grandparents; yet 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). Mrs. McQuade has worked in several states with seniors. Iin 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 Governor Arch A. Moore.
In 1972, Mrs. McQuade's efforts helped persuade President Richard Nixon to proclaim a National Shut-in Day.

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 advocating for senior citizens--pprticularly the most elderly.

Observance/Suggested Activities

Grandparents Day is a family day. Schools, churches, and senior organizations honor grandparents with special events. Some families enjoy small, private gatherings. Others celebrate by holding a family reunion. Board games which are easily played by young and old add enjoyment to family gatherings, enhancing "intergenerational interaction".
For those who entertain large groups, it can be fun to have a story-telling time, allowing grandparents to relate stories of their past, enlightening children about " the old days."  Also interesting is to take a census, such as oldest and newest grandchild, family with the most grandchildren, and families with five generation present.

As Grandparents Day approaches, help Children and/or Grandchildren to identify and date all photos in old family albums. Many happy memories can be derived from this.Everyone is a grandchild and can be involved in the observance of this day - a time to discover one's roots and leam patience, understanding and appreciation for the elderly. Grandparents Day is the perfect time to enhance communication between the generations.

Special talents, such as cooking, sculpting or quilting can be passed on to those who display an interest.  Old family music, songs and dances, along with their meanings and origins, are important in maintaining a strong sense of family background.  Together, re-construct a family tree, giving children the opportunity to learn the ancestral line of their family. Strive to preserve particular ethnic or religious beliefs.
Many times, only grandparents have answers to questions about family histories. When this information is passed down to the grandchildren, everyone can be assured of his heritage being preserved.

Most important, Grandparents Day can signify a loving spirit that lives winin us throughout the year--a spirit of love and respect for our elders.

Shut-Ins and Homebound Elderly

Along with Grandparents Day, we should not forget shut-ins and those in nursing homes who are unable to be with their families or have no families. Every effort must be made to include these people in the mainstream through cards, community projects and visitation at times other than just holidays.

There are many, many elderly who arae not fortunate encough to have family nearby. The need is increarsing every day to fill the void of their loneliness. In every neighborhood, there are elderly who would love an opportunity to be a Foster Grandparent. Parents, churches, schools, and senior organizations, help children to adopt a grandparent!

Founder's Advisory Committee (original)

Cecil H. Underwood
Governor of WV
Shirley Love
WV State Senator
Honorable Jennings Randolph
United States Senator of WV
Jim Comstock
Journalist and Historian
Ronald Ohl
President, Salem College
Jim Franklin
Nancy Hannabass
Banker and Civic Leader
Mrs. Gene Skeldon
Elizabeth Thrush
News Media
Mrs. Astri Jarrett
Civic Leader
Mrs. Fannie Redman
Aging Programs
Bill Bright
Carolyn Terrell
Poet and Writer
Oak Hill Junior Civitan Club
The Shirley Donnelly Bible Class

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