An Interview with the President of Roosevelt Island's Historical Society Judith Berdy

Judith Berdy is the President of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. She has lived on Roosevelt Island for 42 years.

Judith Berdy is the President of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. She has lived on Roosevelt Island for 42 years.

We, the Conservancy’s 2019 Summer Interns, had the pleasure of interviewing Judith Berdy, the President of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, on her thoughts about the Island, the Park, and the Four Freedoms.

FFP: What is one thing you love about Roosevelt Island?

JB: I love the community. The community includes people so that’s two things. The environment, the whole ambience of the island. It has some flaws like any community, but in general it’s a great place to live.   

FFP: If you could ensure one of the Four Freedoms for the world, which would it be and why?

JB: I think in this day and age, freedom of fear is the one that I would like to ensure. I’d like that freedom to be more evident in our world so that people would not be fearful of where they live, who they are, or where they’re going. I think there is too much fear in this world, too many activities going on that are not anything like the four freedoms signified.  

FFP: What do you believe should be someone’s biggest take way after visiting FDR Four Freedoms State Park?

JB: Well the biggest take away should be learning about Franklin D. Roosevelt, learning about the four freedoms, just learning about the world as it was in the 1930s when he came into office. What he went through and what the United States went through. The man had a great disability but he conquered it and it didn’t matter that he was disabled, he went on to succeed with his life. There is a lot to learn about Franklin and especially Eleanor because we know she was behind all those good speeches.

FFP: If you could go back in time and meet FDR what would you ask or say to him?

JB: Welcome to Roosevelt Island, come to the visitor’s center, and come to the park. I would discuss his background because he had a very influential family and his distant cousin was Theodore Roosevelt. [I’d want to] discuss his history, how he was raised and how he was brought up.  How he came from wealthy digs and wasn’t a poor person at all but he realized how much was needed in the country. He could’ve just been one of these elite presidents that never looked at poor people like his predecessors and never did anything for people who were economically disadvantaged. Yet through some nature in him, or his administration, maybe Eleanor, he turned the country around. He got Congress to agree with what he was doing usually. So I mean, I would love to find out how he wheeled and dealed in the back room.