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Author and social worker Kitty Dukakis, wife of Michael Dukakis, is best known for her activism as well as her struggles with addiction and depression.
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Author, social worker, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Born Katharine Dickson on December 26, 1936, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Long a part of the political scene as the wife of a Massachusetts governor and one-time presidential hopeful, Kitty Dukakis is best known for her activism as well as her struggles with addiction and depression. In her later memoir, she indicated that part of her problems could be related to her difficult relationship with her mother who she found overcritical. She also grew up in the shadow of her father, Harry Ellis Dickson, a famous musician, musical director, and conductor.
To escape her mother, Dukakis married a high school boyfriend. They had one child together, John, but their union did not last. The couple divorced after four years of marriage. She graduated from Lesley College in 1963 and that same year married lawyer Michael Dukakis, then a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. They made an unlikely pair. From a Jewish background, she has described herself as “impetuous and volatile,” whereas her new Greek Orthodox husband was known for being more restrained and reserved. Despite their differences, the couple has formed a strong bond that has survived many ups and downs. They eventually had two daughters together, and Kitty Dukakis quickly settled into the life of a politician’s wife.
In 1975, Dukakis became the first lady of Massachusetts when her husband was sworn in as governor. He had defeated Governor Francis Sargent with his promises of reducing government spending and no tax increase. Unfortunately, he could not keep his tax promise and lost his bid for re-election in 1978. But, in 1982, Michael Dukakis returned to the state’s top post after defeating his replacement, Governor Edward King. That same year, Kitty Dukakis earned a master’s degree from Boston University School of Communication. She also worked on a number of projects, including establishing an emergency shelter for men and women then called the Friends of the Shattuck Shelter (now hopeFound).
As the wife of a presidential candidate, Dukakis became a national public figure in the late 1980s. Her life was a whirlwind of activity as she traveled extensively in support of her husband. Beating out Dick Gephardt, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson, Michael Dukakis was officially chosen as the Democratic presidential nominee at the party’s convention in July 1988.
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