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“President Roosevelt Dies at Home in Warm Springs,” April 13, 1945


(The following is the headline article from the front page of the April 13, 1945 issue of the Atlanta Constitution.)

President Roosevelt Dies At Home in Warm Springs

Wife Arrives to Escort Body Back to Capital

by Merriman Smith

Warm Springs, Ga., April 12—(UP)—Death today removed Franklin Delano Roosevelt from a war-torn world and left peace-expectant millions shocked and stunned.

Death gave the 63-year-old President of the United States short notice.

At about 1 o’clock this afternoon, sitting in the “Little White House” here, he felt a sudden pain in the back of his head.

At 1:15 p.m. he fainted. He never regained consciousness. At 3:35 p.m. he died without pain of what the doctor called a “massive cerebral hemorrhage.”

Funeral service for President Roosevelt will be held in the East room of the White House 3 p.m. Saturday, Atlanta time, the White House disclosed. Burial will be held in Hyde Park Sunday afternoon.

Mrs. Roosevelt arrived here by plane shortly before 11:30 p.m. today, Atlanta time, to accompany the body of President Roosevelt back to Washington.

She was accompanied by V. Adm. Ross T. McIntire, surgeon general of the Navy and the President’s personal physician who was not here when the chief executive died, and Stephen T. Early, secretary [sic] to the President and one of his oldest friends and associates.

They flew by Army plane from Washington, landing about 40 miles from here at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia.

They made the trip to Warm Springs by automobile.

Only three persons were with the President when he died in his quarters at the Warm Springs Foundation for Infantile Paralysis victims. They were Cmdr. Howard G. Bruenn, on the staff of Vice Adm. Ross T. McIntyre, Navy surgeon general and Mr. Roosevelt’s personal physician; Lt. Cmdr. George Fox, a White House medical aide, and Dr. James Paullin, Atlanta physician, who had been summoned with the President was stricken ill.

Mrs. Roosevelt and his only daughter, Mrs. Anna Boettiger, were in Washington; his four sons were on duty with the armed forces. In the Little White House, but not in the room where he died, were the President’s cousins, Miss Margaret Suckly and Miss Laura Delano. With them was his private secretary, Grace Tulley, and white House Secretary, William Hassett.

Death came on a pleasant spring day. The scene was a little room overlook a green and lovely Georgia valley.

So far from death were the President’s thoughts when he began his last day that he had planned an unusually busy afternoon and evening. He was posing for a portrait’s sketch when the pain came. He had planned to attend a barbecue and minstrel show a few hours later.

Mr. Roosevelt had been in War springs—which he liked to call his “second home”—since March 30. The week preceding he had spent at his home in Hyde Park, New York.

News of Mr. Roosevelt’s death came from Secretary William D. Hassett. He called in three press association reporters who had accompanied the President here and said:

“It is my sad duty to inform you that the President died at 3:35 of a cerebral hemorrhage.”

Simultaneously the news was telephoned to the White House in Washington and announced there too.

The President had spent a leisurely two weeks in Warm Springs. And at no time was there any indication that he was sick, beyond the fact that he had not made his usual visits to the Warm Springs swimming pool, where in 1924 he began his lifelong battle to overcome the withering effects of infantile paralysis.

Almost daily during his stay he took long automobile rides in the soft Georgia spring sum and had been keeping up constantly with developments in Washington and abroad by telephone and through official papers flown to him every morning.

Mr. Roosevelt was the 31st president of the United States.

The President’s death was announced in Washington by Stephen T. Early, his secretary and confidant since he first took office in 1933.

Harry S. Truman was called to the White House immediately and an emergency cabinet meeting was held.

The four Roosevelt sons, all in the armed forces, were notified by their mother. She told them that the President had done his job to the end and that she knew he would want them to do likewise.

On April 5 the President conferred for a day with President Sergio Osmena, of the Philippine commonwealth. He told Osmena that he hoped the Philippine independence would be restored far in advance of the congressional statutory date of July 4, 1946.

At the conference with Osmena Mr. Roosevelt reaffirmed his firm intention to see that Japan and all of her mandates would be under complete Allied control and policing for an indefinite period after the war ends.

The occasion of his meeting with Osmena on April 5 was the last time the three wire service reporters accompanying the President saw him to talk for any length of time.

He was in gay spirits then and chatted lightly as he sat behind a paper-laden card table, waving his long cigarette holder jauntily and wisecracking with the reporters.

At that time the President had a good suntan, but his face was unusually drawn and there was evidence of a slight cough.

But he did not look or act like a man who was going to die in a week.

This morning he followed his usual routine of handling paper work that had just arrived from Washington.

In Washington, where the news of the President’s death at first produced shocked disbelief, officials immediately wondered what effect the tragedy would have on the many domestic and international projects the President was guiding.

Dr. Bruenn said that at 9:30 a.m. today the President was “in excellent spirits” and showed no evidence whatever of feeling badly.

In the Little White House, but not in the President’s bedroom, were two of his cousins who had been in Warm Springs with him, Miss Margaret Suckley Miss Laura Delano, and also Grace Tully, the President’s private secretary, and Hassett.

The tiny community that makes up Warm Springs was plunged into gloom by the death of its literal patron saint.

The President had planned at 4:30 o’clock to have gone to the mountainside cottage of Frank Allcorn, the mayor of Warm Springs, for an old-fashioned late afternoon barbecue.

As the President died, country fiddlers were on the mountainside by Allcorn’s cottage testing out their violins and planning what they were going to play for him.

At dusk the President was to have gone to the small playhouse on the Warm Springs Foundation for a minstrel show put on by the patients who live in wheel chairs and braces—just as the President had since he suffered an infantile paralysis attack in 1920.

Mr. Roosevelt was the man who gave untold worlds of hope to not only the polio cripples in Warm Springs itself but all over the nation and all over the world.

Despite the fact that he was virtually a prisoner of his wheel chair, Mr. Roosevelt rose to what undoubtedly will be one of the greatest individual spots in history.

Since last spring it had been increasingly evident that the President had lost a great deal of his old-time vitality and ability to recover from minor ailments. He spent a month last spring fighting a secluded battle with bronchitis at the South Carolina coastal estate of Bernard M. Baruch. And in the months leading to his precedent-breaking fourth term campaign the chief executive spent as much time as possible at his home in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Because of wartime security governing his movements the public little knowledge of just how much time the President was spending outside of Washington. As a matter of fact, his presence in Warm Springs had not been disclosed.

The President went through a brutal fourth term campaign for a man of his condition and age. And although early this year he made the grueling Big Three trip to Yalta, he showed signs of increasing weariness. His voice at press conferences was weak, and loose folds of skin under his chin were a barometer of the weight he had lost.

Yet as far as the doctors could tell he suffered no actual organic ailments, although he was bothered almost constantly while in Washington by a chronic sinus condition which flared up occasionally with accompanying colds and bronchitis.

The President’s death made possible for the first time since Pearl Harbor the description of the heavily guarded life he has led during the war - an existence which kept him surrounded by Secret Service agents and guards of the armed services.

His every movement—except for a few politically expedient weeks in the last election campaign—was a secret as closely guarded as the movement of a battleship in enemy waters. No disclosure of his activities outside the White House was permitted until they were accomplished facts.

During the last election campaign some of the President’s critics, including some within his own party, said he would not live out his fourth term. And his death today bore them out.

Doctors say that a cerebral hemorrhage is not something that can be spotted in advance. And the President’s death today caught his entire staff, people who live with him 24 hours a day, by complete surprise.

It was a soft summer-like afternoon in Warm Springs when he died.

He was relaxing with complete leisure in a large arm chair, tolerating, as it were, the artist who was sketching him, when the sharp, piercing headaches began stabbing the back of his proud, leonine lead.

It was just a matter of minutes before he slumped over unconscious. In a fleeting instant he was a gray, withered old man instead of the smiling “Boss”—the constant battler for the underdog and his own political fortune.

The President had planned to make a brief radio address tomorrow night to Jefferson Day dinners of the Democratic party over the nation. He had planned to leave Warm Springs on April 18, arriving back in Washington on April 19 and staying there for one day before leaving for the United Nations conference in San Francisco.

Atlanta Constitution, April 13, 1945