John A. Roosevelt, the youngest child of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and the only Roosevelt son never to run for public office, was educated at Groton and Harvard. After graduation, Roosevelt eschewed politics for business and clerked for Filene's, the legendary Boston department store. In 1941 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, engaged in the Pacific front aboard an aircraft carrier and, by the time of his departure in 1946, he had reached the rank of lieutenant commander and had been awarded the Bronze Star. He then moved his family to Los Angeles where he resurrected a varied business career that included managing financial properties as well as a department store. In 1952, he moved his family to Val-Kill after he took possession of the property his brother Elliott had managed for ER. Roosevelt had become a Republican in 1947 (a gesture ER interpreted as a move to win support from his wife's family) and actively supported Dwight D. Eisenhower's candidacy in 1952 and defended Richard Nixon against the attacks his mother often initiated. While this exacerbated the tense relationship John had with Elliott and ER, John's move to Hyde Park not only helped ER manage the property but gave his children ready access to the grandmother they adored. In 1956, Roosevelt expanded his business interests to consult for Bache and Company and remained with the investment firm until he retired as a senior vice-president in 1980. Like all Roosevelts, he had an active life as a public servant, serving as a key fund raiser for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, a member of the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and a trustee of the State University of New York. He died in 1981 of heart failure.
Sources: Otis L. Graham, Jr. and Meghan Robinson Wander, eds., Franklin D. Roosevelt: His Life and Times (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985), p. 372; Maurine Beasley et al., eds., The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001), pp. 462-463.
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/.
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