Curtis Roosevelt, who lived in the White House as a child when his grandfather was president and worked for two decades at the United Nations, has died at 86.
The oldest grandchild of Franklin D and Eleanor Roosevelt died of a heart attack in Saint-Bonnet-du-Gard in southern France on Sep 26.
Curtis Roosevelt insisted in writing before his death that he didn’t want a funeral service. Instead, according to his widow Marina Roosevelt, he said, “If you must do something, then get together and have a good time, with wine and cheese, and make awful martinis like my grandfather did.”
Roosevelt’s childhood in the spotlight marked the rest of his life, as did his grandfather’s exceptional legacy.
Curtis Roosevelt, born April 19, 1930 when his grandfather was governor of New York, was the son of Anna Roosevelt, the president’s eldest child and only daughter.
Curtis and his younger sister Anna moved in with their grandparents as his father Curtis Bean Dall’s stock market career suffered in the Depression and his parents divorced.
Dubbed “Buzzie” and “Sistie,” they lived relatively shielded from the difficulty of the era, shuttling between Washington and vacations at the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, NY.
The children lived in the White House for several years until their mother married a newspaper reporter John Boettiger.
“He never really got over those early impressions,” his sister Anna Eleanor Seagraves said Saturday from her home in Bethesda, Maryland. Their lives took different paths, and she described their relations as “cordial” but not close — until their elderly years, when they re-established a bond.
Curtis Roosevelt went on to work as an educator and political reformer in New York, and then became a diplomat at the UN from 1964 to 1983, where he notably served as liaison with non-governmental organisations.
He was following in the footsteps of his grandmother, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a member of the first American delegation to the UN in 1945, and later served as chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights from 1947 to 1951.