Nov. 14, 1919 — April 11, 2013
Eleanor Roosevelt II died in her sleep on April 11, 2013, in Davis, at the age of 93. ER II, like her famous aunt, Eleanor Roosevelt, lived with grace, dignity and a dedication to family that puts most of us to shame.
She was born on Nov. 14, 1919, in Schenectady N.Y., to G. Hall Roosevelt, brother of Eleanor Roosevelt, and Margaret Richardson, daughter of Boston surgeon Edward Peirson Richardson. Hall named his daughter, ER II, after his only surviving sibling Eleanor. President Theodore Roosevelt was Eleanor II’s great-uncle.
ER II spent her childhood with the Roosevelts and Richardsons of New York and Boston. She would come to know several generations of both families. She met and knew her Great-Aunt Corinne, sister of President Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and FDR’s mother Sarah Delano as well as all of FDR’s and ER’s children and grandchildren.
ER II was first cousin of FDR and ER’s five children and was frequently invited to visit them in the White House, at their country home in Hyde Park NY, and at their several apartments in New York City.
During FDR’s 16-year presidency from 1933 to 1945 ER II visited the White House often. As a teenager, ER II would be invited to sit with her Uncle in the Oval office and go on rides with him through Washington in his open touring car that he used while campaigning. FDR and ER hosted ER II’s coming-out party in 1938 at the White House.
ER II attended the Winsor School for girls in Boston from 1930 to 1938 and later the Cranbrook Art Academy in Michigan, which had been founded only a few years earlier in 1932. There, she studied all forms of art from drawing to sculpture and would spend the rest of her life expressing herself artistically in many forms.
In 1941 Eleanor married Edward Elliott, an architect whom she had met at Cranbrook and moved to Ottawa Canada, where her English husband joined the Canadian Navy for the duration of WW II. She went on to raise her four children herself, and was involved in the lives of all of her 8 grand children and 4 great grand children.
ER II’s close relationship with ER would begin when ER II was very young. ER II recounted in her memoirs, that she once, as a child, told her Aunt that she was making their name famous. ER, always kind, replied that she would try not to make it inconvenient. This began a forty-two year close friendship, during which ER would come to refer to ER II as ‘her favorite niece’. They remained close companions until ER’s death in 1962.
Eleanor went on to fulfill her lifelong dedication to bringing the personal stories of ER to the world, sharing these stories with many schools, senior citizen groups, and women’s history and business organizations.
ER II’s 2005 book ‘With Love, Aunt Eleanor’ is a collection of personal stories that recounts her years with ER. In her book ER II wrote that she had learned a lot from her Aunt Eleanor, that she was ‘So much more than just a First Lady: she was truly an individual of great spirit and compassion.’ Most that knew her would say that ER II embodied the same spirit and compassion.
Over the years, ER II would be interviewed countless times about her life with the Roosevelts. In 1995 ER II appeared in a BBC production about ER, and in 2000 she appeared in the PBS American Experience film “Eleanor Roosevelt.”
On ER’s death, ER II carved the single memorial plaque to Eleanor Roosevelt that now hangs in the Hyde Park New York Episcopal Church opposite the pew used by ER and FDR.
If ER II were alive today to write the end to this story she would most likely continue her self deprecating style and conclude with a thank you, much like she did in her book ‘To all the fine folks with whom I froliced every day my warmest thanks to all of you.”
She is survived by her half-sister, Janet Roosevelt Katten; her four children, Stewart Elliott, Theodore Elliott, Lauren Elliott and Eleanor Calkin; eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
“My days are busy, creative, sociable and fun. Life has treated me well indeed.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt II