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Gail McGowan Mellor Headshot

Granny D in the Mountains

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Doris "Granny D." Haddock was a treasured friend and guiding spirit who walked 3400 miles at age 90 to rouse the nation against the corporate buy-out of U.S. government. My daughter Laura, then 19, had heard Granny say over dinner at our house in Louisville that Granny -- fearless to that point -- was scared of the West Virginia winter mountain passes, so Laura and her friend Mary took time off from college to go with her.

While Granny slept that last night in Louisville, my husband Paul Martin had made the diminutive, arthritic, indomitable woman a stout oaken staff. Aware by CB of where she was on her journey from Pasadena to Washington DC, the truckers, the Knights of the Road, watched over her. Laura e-mailed from the trail however that far from leaning on the staff, Granny had attached her banner to it and was carrying it over her shoulder, waving it as the passing truckers beeped and cheered.

At night, Laura said, Granny eased her bleeding feet from frozen shoes but always walked exactly ten miles the next day. Though Laura and Mary at first tried to stay between Granny and the trucks or to walk ahead checking the way, she kept them firmly behind and to the inside, because being seen walking every inch of that 3400 miles, talking to people along the way, was the point of the journey.

As they came down out of the mountains, Granny paused briefly to celebrate her 90th birthday and then hiked on toward Washington, but snow had covered the flats as well, so at one point, whooping it up, she cross-country skied. Senator Mitch McConnell [R-KY], the most ferocious foe of United States campaign finance reform, had been quoted as saying that reform would pass "when hell freezes over." Granny therefore had a picture made of her skiing toward Washington, put it on a post card and sent it to Mitch with the message "Hell has frozen over and here comes Granny!"

The oak staff with its banner still over her shoulder, and Laura and Mary right behind her, Granny led thousands of us from all over the country into Washington. A primitive campaign finance reform passed -- a start.

After a brief respite, Granny at 94 ran for federal office from New Hampshire to prove that ordinary citizens who were not millionaires could in fact run, getting 34% of the vote. This January she turned 100, often popping up in articles or on talk shows, working until the last four days of her fantastically well-lived life. All those who fight corruption honor her work. What I see is her eyes, which at 100 were the sparkling blue of intense young intelligence burning with earned strength, wisdom and discernment. She died March 9, 2010, not that she ever will.

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