Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Roanoke in October 1934 for the dedication of a veteran’s hospital. Economy-Bryant said her father, who was just a young boy at the time, was among the crowds that came to see the president disembark from the train.
Economy, seeking to memorialize it, went to his friend Wilson, the cemetery owner.
“He felt that was worthy of a plaque, which we helped manufacture and install over there at the flagpole … with a bas relief of FDR,” Wilson said. “Also, there was a photograph, a panoramic scene of the dedication day, and that’s cast into a plaque, as well.”
That memorial stands where the speech was given, but Economy wanted to see another monument erected where Roosevelt got off the train, his daughter said. She plans to continue advocating for it.
“Suttie wanted veterans recognized,” Wilson said, “but he was also a lover of history and wanted to preserve things, so that we would remember.”
Maybe the biggest memorial Economy left behind was the seemingly endless collection of gifts he had at hand, for friends and strangers. He brought gifts to Wilson’s crew at the cemetery — socks on Christmas, hand sanitizer and Juicy Fruit, of course, at other times.
“He hit on my mother one time, in front of my dad,” Wilson said, laughing. “He gave her some perfume. He’d always have some little knick-knacks and trinkets, because he never knew who he might run into. He was always prepared.
Originally Appeared On: https://roanoke.com/news/local/roanokes-suttie-economy-who-wanted-veterans-remembered-dies-at-95/article_35fe51a2-b0fd-11eb-8ffd-1bdac21349d1.html