FDR and Hyde Park “Why he is still critical 66 years later!” April 12, 2011

The drive up the old Taconic Parkway was smooth and uneventful, despite the heavy rains that inundated the Hudson Valley. The road that had been started in the 1920’s and repaired, and re-structured many times since, is not unlike most in New York State, it needs a great deal of work, in the wake of a difficult winter.

It would encompass almost forty years to finally finish this winding and picturesque road from the original parkway proposal by Taconic State Parkway Commission chair Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1925 to the completion of the of the final stretch, in Columbia County in 1963. The delays were due to the high priority needs of labor and material demanded by World War II. Throughout FDR’s two terms of governor and his presidency, his vision of the Taconic Parkway went from an idea, to a proposal, then to legislation, appropriation, to the design period and then construction.

In the same way that the Taconic Parkway is a testament to his foresight, vision, drive and determination that FDR possessed, it also foreshadows the great public works FDR, as the architect of the New Deal, would initiate.

Once I reached Route 9, the Albany Post Road, in the City of Poughkeepsie, it is a short uphill drive to Hyde Park, where FDR’s memory still casts his mighty shadow on almost everything from the post office he helped design to the Saint James Church where he prayed, was a vestryman, and where his parents are buried. All along the Albany Post Road, there are banners with his name leading to his father’s old estate, Springwood, where the big house still regally stands, his museum and library still functions and the relatively new Wallace welcoming center hosts tens of thousands of guests each year.

In the preface of his book, In the Shadow of FDR, the renowned historian, William E. Leuchtenburg, writes. “A ghost has inhabited the Oval Office since 1945 – the ghost of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR’s formidable presence has cast a large shadow on the occupants of that office in the years since his death, and an appreciation of his continuing influence is essential to understanding the contemporary presidency.” In the same way that FDR’s memory and shadow still dominates this Hudson River Valley village,

Every day in a thousand blogs, on the editorial pages of hundreds of newspapers and inside and outside the corridors of the Congress, the debate over the New Deal rages amongst the old New Deal liberals, the new proponents of social justice, the environmentalists, the deficit hawks and the revisionist lunatics of the radical right. Whether it is over investing in infrastructure, the rights of civil servants to collectively bargain, the future of United Nations, the Keynesian spending of the New Deal and today, the entitlement safety nets, or the rhetoric of the Tea Party heirs of Ronald Reagan, the philosophy, actions and legacy of FDR are still paramount in our political dialogue sixty-six years from the day of his death.

On that day in 1945 hundreds of thousands of mourners waved good-by to the 32nd President as his funeral train slowly made the three-day journey from his winter home in the hamlet of Warm Springs, Georgia, to the rolling hills of Dutchess County.

The Poughkeepsie Journal told of one local resident, Bernard Kessler, who was a young attorney in 1945, who attended the gravesite service. “It was a sad day for everyone,” he said, “They set up a stone there in the Rose Garden, Everything was beautifully laid out.”

The Journal told of some of the other residents who fathers were friends of the late president. Saul Kessler, Elmer Van Wagner Sr., and Harold and Rosabel Clay, to name a few, were also political supporters of Roosevelt.

Amongst, the local residents, The Journal reported that Elmer Van Wagner Jr., who is 75, remembers his father hearing the news of Roosevelt’s death. The elder Wagner was plowing the family farm, the Vanderbilt Estates, at the time.

Wagner said, “He got right off his tractor, got down on his knees and cried like a baby.” Another resident, Ann Dingee, who is now 79, of Hyde Park, vividly recalls the reaction of her mother Rosabel Clay, on learning of the president’s death. “All I remember is coming home and my mother screaming,” she said. “I remember that like it was yesterday.”

The actual funeral service took place at 10:34 am, with the Reverend Dr. W. George Anthony, the rector of Saint James Episcopal Church presiding and it lasted just seventeen minutes with howitzers in the distance and the roar of planes flying overhead in a farewell salute. At 10:51 an Army bugler played taps.

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A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at http://advocates-wvox.com. Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel rjg727@comcast.net Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

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