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"There are many kinds of success in life worth having," Theodore Roosevelt wrote in his autobiography. "It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful business man, or railroad man, or farmer, or a successful lawyer, or doctor, or a writer, or a president, or a ranchman, or the colonel of a fighting regiment, or to kill grizzly bears and lions. But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison. It may be true that he travels farthest who travels alone; but the goal thus reached is not worth reaching."

Roosevelt was raised in a strong, loving household where education, personal responsibility and concern for the less fortunate were vital elements. Teddy Roosevelt passed these priceless gifts on to his own family in full measure. Teddy was born of affluent parents in New York City on Oct. 27, 1858. His father, a merchant-banker and Lincoln Republican, was a seventh generation New Yorker of Dutch heritage who helped to found the Children's Aid Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His mother was from Georgia, and she sympathized with the South during the Civil War. Political differences between mother and father did not corrode the marriage because of their mutual love and respect.

When Teddy was in his mid-20s and a member of the New York State Assembly, he suffered a devastating double loss in February 1884. His mother, Mittie, and his wife, Alice Lee, died on the same day - Mittie, of typhoid, and Alice, of a kidney disease. The date was Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, the fourth anniversary of the engagement of Alice and Theodore. Alice Lee had given birth to a daughter named Alice two days before her death.

Roosevelt was at his mother's bedside when she died at about 3 a.m. Twenty-two-year old Alice Lee, with Theodore constantly at her side, died in the afternoon at about 2 o'clock. Roosevelt was heartbroken. Historian Hermann Hagadorn wrote that never would Roosevelt speak of Alice Lee to their child. "That door in his heart was locked, and Alice would never find the key."

Roosevelt later married a childhood friend, Edith Carow. She raised Alice Lee's daughter and bore five children of her own (four sons and a daughter) with Theodore. Alice Lee had been fun loving and outgoing. Edith was steady, and was never impressed with the flash and whirl of society.

In 1910, when their son Ted Jr. became engaged, TR wrote his son, saying of his own marriage, "Greatly tho I loved Mother [Edith], I was at times thoughtless and selfish . . . [Edith] was always tender, gentle and considerate, and always loving, yet, when necessary, pointed out where I was thoughtless, instead of submitting to it." Roosevelt said he valued Edith's strength of character because, without it, her life would have been "very much harder, and mine very much less happy."

Edith also sent Ted Jr. a congratulatory letter when he became engaged. Speaking about herself, she wrote, "One should not live to oneself. It was a temptation to me, only Father [Theodore] would not allow it. Since I have grown older and realize that it is a great opportunity when one has a house that one can make pleasant for younger - and also older - people to come to, I have done better."

Teddy and his family lived in their beloved Sagamore Hill home in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Sagamore Hill also functioned as the summer White House when he was president. He routinely wrote or talked about his family. When Alice (daughter of Alice Lee) was three years old, TR said that she is "too sweet and good for anything." A shy niece named Eleanor (who was to marry a distant cousin named Franklin Delano Roosevelt) was often at the house and "plays all the time with her." Ted Jr., born in 1887, "crawls everywhere, does his best to stand and talk - but fails - and is too merry and happy for anything. I go in to play with them every morning, they are certainly the dearest children imaginable." Kermit was born in 1889, Ethel in 1891, Archibald in 1894 and Quentin in 1897. They never lacked love or attention, and the Roosevelt home regularly bubbled with laughter and games, with Teddy usually the biggest and most mischievous culprit. Visitors never knew what to expect when they came to Sagamore Hill.

But tragedy would strike the Roosevelt family again. During World War I, five of Roosevelt's children (all four sons and daughter Ethel) served overseas. Quentin, his youngest son, was killed in July 1918 while flying on a mission behind enemy lines - only four months before the war ended. Two other sons, Archie and Ted, were wounded in the war.

The death of Quentin was a severe blow for Roosevelt. What remained of his health disintegrated rapidly during his final months. He was blind in one eye, partly deaf and suffering from a tenacious illness he had contracted in 1914 while mapping an unexplored river in the Amazon jungle. (The admiring Brazilians renamed the river "Rio Roosevelt" in his honor.)

On Jan. 5, 1919, Theodore said to Edith, "I wonder if you will ever know how I love Sagamore Hill."

The next day, Theodore Roosevelt - the man who devoted his life to family and to "work worth doing" - died in his sleep.

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