Doris Haddock dies at 100; activist and Senate candidate ‘Granny D’

Doris Haddock walks along a Texas highway during her cross-country hike. She later ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat.
Doris Haddock walks along a Texas highway during her cross-country hike. She later ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat.
(Ronald Martinez / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Doris “Granny D” Haddock, a New Hampshire woman who walked across the country at age 89 to promote campaign finance reform and later waged a quixotic campaign for the U.S. Senate, has died. She was 100.

Haddock died Tuesday night of chronic respiratory illness at her home in Dublin, N.H., said family friend and Haddock spokeswoman Maude Salinger.

In 1999 and 2000, Haddock walked 3,200 miles to draw attention to campaign finance reform. In 2004, at age 94, she ran for U.S. Senate against Republican Judd Gregg. The subtitle of her autobiography, written with Dennis Burke, was “You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell.”

“Her age wasn’t a factor in what she did,” Salinger said. “She never gave up. Until the end, she advocated for public funding. She . . . wanted people to know that democracy and government belongs to us.”

Haddock was born Jan. 24, 1910, in Laconia, N.H., and attended Emerson College before marrying James Haddock. She later worked at a shoe company for 20 years.


After retiring in 1972, Haddock became more active in community affairs. She became interested in campaign finance reform after the defeat of the first attempt of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to remove unregulated “soft” money from campaigns in 1995. Then she decided on a cross-country trek from Pasadena to Washington, D.C.

“Sometimes, I think it was a fool’s errand, but I think there are more people in this country who know what campaign finance reform means since I started,” she said in February 2000.

Starting on New Year’s Day in 1999 and covering about 10 miles a day, Haddock walked across more than 1,000 miles of desert, climbed the Appalachian Range in blizzard conditions and even skied 100 miles after snowfall made roadside walking impossible.

When she made her way along California 62 near Twentynine Palms, she marveled, “The weather is divine, the mountains are a wonder, rising out of nowhere, and the blue sky is always with you here.”

In 2004, Haddock jumped into the Senate race on the last day to file after the presumptive Democratic nominee dropped out when his campaign manager was accused of financial fraud. A few months before the election, she officially changed her name to “Granny D” but stressed that the “D” stood for “Doris,” not her party affiliation. She lost to Gregg 66% to 34%.

Recently she was working on a new book, “My Bohemian Century,” which focused on her college days and her Senate campaign and was expected to be published this spring.

In her new book’s dedication, Haddock offers readers advice: “You have to keep the young adventurer inside your heart alive long enough for it to someday re-emerge. It may take some coaxing and some courage, but that person is in you always -- never growing old.”