Readers: Earlier this year — actually starting last fall — PBS broadcast a series on the lives of three historic American figures with the same last name: Theodore Roosevelt; Franklin, his fifth cousin; and Eleanor, Teddy’s niece and Franklin’s first lady.
As with seemingly everyone, they, too, have Florida connections.
There’s no indication Theodore Roosevelt visited Palm Beach County as president. He did come in March 1903 to Pelican Island, near Sebastian, to dedicate America’s first national wildlife refuge. But he has a connection to another Treasure Coast spot: the tiny village of Jupiter Island, just north of the Martin-Palm Beach county line. It wasn’t Teddy. It was Archie.
Archibald Bullock Roosevelt was Teddy’s fifth child. He was 6 when the Roosevelts moved into the White House in 1901, and instantly caused a sensation for sliding down a banister into a diplomatic reception and riding his Shetland pony around the White House grounds.
As an adult, he commanded U.S. forces in both world wars. He was severely hurt in both. When his father died at 60 in 1919, it was he who telegraphed his siblings with the sad news that “the old lion is dead.”
After World War II, he founded a bond brokerage house. As early as 1932, he was a staunch conservative, especially with the federal budget. In the 1950s, Archie joined the communist-conspiracy John Birch society.
“He did not age well, turning to Scotch and Communist-bashing as antidotes to the constant pain of his war wounds,” Edmund Morris wrote in the book “Colonel Roosevelt.” “During the McCarthy era, his conservatism deteriorated into political paranoia.”
In the 1960s, Archie became a part-time resident of Jupiter Island.
“He was an absolutely splendid conversationalist and a raconteur,” Reed, now 82 said in mid-September. “He was a great favorite of my mother’s and father’s, so he dined a great deal with them.”
Archie was the father of four. His wife died in 1971 on Long Island in a crash in which he was driving. Not long after that, he moved to Jupiter Island full time.
“He was a bachelor, so he was on Jupiter Island, where there were lots of widows. He was out for dinner three or four nights a week,” Reed said.
At some point, Archie moved into the Stuart Convalescent Home. He died there on Oct. 13, 1979. At 85, he had lived a quarter century longer than his legendary father.
(Special thanks to Post editor Tom Peeling)
Next Week: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Glades.
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