Former First Lady Talks to Those Who Knew Her Local Woman Portrays Roosevelt for Seniors

Article excerpt

For Genevieve Marrow and Lucille Koche, listening and watching Marilyn Darnall was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

The residents of The Devonshire, a retirement community in Lisle, said Darnall brought back some vivid memories.

Darnall portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt on Saturday during a luncheon sponsored by Naperville's Community 2000 Elderly Support Team.

It's a role the Oak Brook woman has grown quite familiar with; she has put on almost 300 presentations at area schools, luncheons and benefits.

"It becomes addictive," Darnall said of her one-woman show.

On a small stage in a room at Naperville's White Eagle Golf Club, Darnall painted a picture of who Eleanor Roosevelt was, from childhood on.

Darnall told the audience how her parents and younger brother died when she was young. She explained how Roosevelt used to fear trying new things and talked about marrying her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

She carried the audience through Roosevelt's life, describing how she took care of her husband after he became president and suffered from polio. Darnall talked about her children and told how she was appointed a delegate to the United Nations Assembly by President Harry Truman.

"In a country that's looking for heroes and heroines, I thought (Roosevelt) was a great example," Darnall said before her presentation. "And I wanted to keep her living."

Darnall has done a great job, according to the audience.

"I thought she was very good. We lived through that lifetime. …