Brian Tadler, left, and Brother Lawrence Syriac, of the Friends...

Brian Tadler, left, and Brother Lawrence Syriac, of the Friends of Sagamore Hill, honoring former President Theodore Roosevelt on the 105th anniversary of his death on Saturday. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Enclosed by a wrought iron fence and punctuated with American flags, the grave of President Theodore Roosevelt, at Youngs Memorial Cemetery in Oyster Bay, overlooks grounds maintained to preserve the legacy of one of the country’s most celebrated naturalists.

On Saturday, the 105th anniversary of his death, a gathering of nonprofit officials and admirers of the 26th president came to pay tribute and place a wreath at the grave site, which serves as the final resting place for Roosevelt and his wife, Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt.

“Not many people can still command a room and gather a crowd to their grave 105 years after their death,” said Erin Whittaker, chief of interpretation, visitor services and natural resources for the National Park Service’s Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. “One such man, whose head is 60 feet tall on Mount Rushmore, does just that.”

The cemetery, which sits adjacent to the 14-acre Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, was the site of a collaborative event held by the nonprofit Friends of Sagamore Hill and the center.
About two dozen visitors attended the wreath-laying ceremony, which followed a presentation by Kurt Deion, author of “Presidential Grave Hunter: One Kid’s Quest to Visit the Tombs of Every President and Vice President.”

Deion, of Rhode Island, said, "... I'm grateful to be here to commemorate who I believe is one of the greatest presidents we've had."

Roosevelt, who served as president between 1901 and 1909, was known for making the Sagamore Hill residence, located just a mile from the Audubon Center, his summer White House. He died there in his sleep at the age of 60.

Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman Vicki Walsh recalled a class trip she took two decades ago as a PTA president and remembered second grade students being in awe of the site and its historical significance. 

A 1919 stereograph shows Roosevelt's flag-draped coffin being carried into Christ...

A 1919 stereograph shows Roosevelt's flag-draped coffin being carried into Christ Church in Oyster Bay. Credit: Library of Congress

"They could not believe the history that we have in this hamlet that President Roosevelt cherished so much," Walsh said. 

A wreath-laying ceremony is not typical for the anniversary of Roosevelt's death, said Brian Tadler, board member for Friends of Sagamore Hill, but it's a practice he hopes will become more regular, especially at a location that epitomizes the former president's mission of conservation and appreciating nature. 

“This fit his personality so well," Tadler said. "Here, especially the grave site and Sagamore Hill, they’re great time capsules for the early 1900s, and I think it captures his essence beautifully.”

Kathryn D'Amico, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, said conscious effort has been taken to preserve the land, which the Roosevelt family donated to the Audubon Society in 1923. 

President Theodore Roosevelt was known for making his Sagamore Hill home...

President Theodore Roosevelt was known for making his Sagamore Hill home his summer White House. Credit: National Archives

"TR wanted to be buried here because it was his favorite place overlooking Oyster Bay Cove, he used to ride horses here with his cousins," said D'Amico. "For 100 years now we've been stewards of this property, and it's pretty much exactly the same as it was."

Not far from the grave site is one of the center's latest features to connect people to Roosevelt's legacy: An augmented reality app that brings Roosevelt to life, showcasing his deep connections to wildlife and conservation.  

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated where Youngs Memorial Cemetery is relative to the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center.

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