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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Missy LeHand was President Franklin Roosevelt’s loyal secretary for decades. Then, eight years into his presidency, she suffered a debilitating stroke. Unable to speak, her years of serving the president were over.

Since FDR showed no outward display of emotion, a number of people around him considered him to be coldhearted. However, according to biographer, Doris Kearns Goodwin, nothing could be further from the truth. During Missy’s extensive hospitalization, Roosevelt ordered that she be given the finest medical care in the country – at his expense. He took time to write personally every doctor.

In time, Roosevelt would fully fund the years of physical therapy that followed. When he realized that Missy’s therapy could take years, FDR became concerned about what would happen to Missy should he died. Missy had no savings and no family to pay for her medical expenses.

In an act few would ever discover, Roosevelt arranged to redo his will. He decreed that half of his estate would be left to Missy. This act involved removing his children as beneficiaries; however, Roosevelt believed that his children would be able to take care of themselves. Missy, he knew, could not. After her death, the remaining income would be distributed in equal shares to his five children.

Later, the president explained his decision to his son, Jimmy. “I owe her that much. She served me so well for so long and asked so little in return.”

As events transpired, Franklin Roosevelt actually outlived Missy LeHand. Still, when Jesus spoke of “the least of these” in Matt. 25, I think he might have had acts such as these done by FDR in mind.

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