Battling breast cancer in 2000, Kathryn Smith found comfort pursuing her lifelong interest in Franklin D. Roosevelt. The more she read, the more intrigued she became with the 32nd U.S. president’s private secretary, Marguerite Alice “Missy” LeHand. “I thought, what a fascinating life she had because she was by his side through the polio crisis, establishing the polio rehabilitation center in Warm Springs and then after his return to politics,” she says. Smith, a past president of the Rotary Club of Greater Anderson, S.C., and a longtime newspaper journalist, turned that curiosity into a book, The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency. FDR historians have praised the work for its scholarship in detailing the life of LeHand, who was not only a private secretary but also a de facto chief of staff, confidant, and source of inspiration to Roosevelt as he fought the polio that paralyzed him from the waist down. Smith shared LeHand’s story with The Rotarian.
THE ROTARIAN: How was LeHand involved in Roosevelt’s …read more