It was with great sadness that we learned this week of the passing of Curtis Roosevelt, grandson of FDR. Curtis was a member of our Advisory Board and a stalwart supporter of the Living New Deal. Dick Walker visited Curtis and his wife, Marina, twice in the last two years at their home in the south of France, and they were most gracious hosts and lively company. Curtis was a great admirer of his grandfather and grandmother, proud of the Roosevelt family lineage, and a feisty New Dealer to the end. He thought the Living New Deal was in the best tradition of his grandfather’s legacy and was enthusiastic about the idea of creating a national New Deal museum.
Curtis Roosevelt earned a masters degree from Columbia University, worked in public relations and education, and spent twenty years at the United Nations, where he served as chief liaison with non-governmental organizations. After a stint as the head of a prep school in England, he moved to Mallorca with his new wife, Marina, and later to a village in France. In recent years, he was better known in Europe than in the United States, and he was a founder of the anti-austerity group in France, Roosevelt 2012.
Having grown up in the spotlight at the White House, Curtis seemed quite happy to be out of it in later in life. But he was clearly still wrestling with the burdens of his famous childhood in his recent memoir, Too Close to the Sun. Unfortunately, that youthful moment in the sun remains what he is best remembered for, if the regrettably light-weight obituary in the New York Times is any indication. It is not his childish locks that we should remember but his political commitment to New Deal principles of public service and social welfare, which put him well to the left of the mainstream Democrats of today.