Staff Perspectives

Mary Jikhars

I am one of the most recent additions to the staff of the FDR Library, having started work as the assistant to Director Lynn Bassanese in May, 2011.  After graduating with a B.A. degree in English Lit from Marist College in 1998, I enlisted in the U.S. Army to become a Linguist (98G) and went through Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC.  Since I’d studied Russian for eight years, I was surprised to find I was to learn Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA.

After over a year of intensive study, I graduated from the language portion of training (الحمد لله) but was held back from completing the second half of my AIT while Army physicians tried to diagnose and treat the anemia which resulted from what would years later be discovered to be Celiac Disease.  In the end, I was given an honorable medical discharge from the Army.

I moved back to NY and was hired as a civilian Army employee in the Protocol Office at the United States Military Academy.  In working with the Protocol team to plan and execute meetings of USMA staff with some of the most influential people in the world (including foreign heads of state, Cabinet members and Senators) I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse into how world events transpire and to become curious about how the United States has historically fit into this puzzle.

In 2006, I moved to mid-coast Maine to marry, buy a home and settle into a small, rural town that would be a good environment in which to raise a child.  I worked with veterans at the oldest veterans’ facility in the country, the Togus VA.  Due to a family situation, it became necessary to move back to NY in 2011 and I jumped at the opportunity to be part of the legacy of one of this country’s most admirable leaders.

I’m so happy to be working here; I feel connections to the House and Library going back quite a while.  I remember as a little girl standing out in the cold celebrating FDR’s birthday along with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and attending ceremonies in the Rose Garden on Memorial Day, once meeting Hamilton Fish, Jr.  FDR’s sons were sometimes present.  When I was a teenager, I babysat one of FDR’s great-granddaughters.

In 2007, World War II shipmates from my great uncle’s ship, the USS Emmons (instrumental in the success at Normandy on D-Day), visited the House and laid a wreath in the Rose Garden.

I look forward to working with one of the most dedicated and enthusiastic teams I’ve ever known to facilitate the renovation and continue FDR’s legacy.

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2 Responses to Staff Perspectives

  1. Patricia Druchunas says:

    Well written! I feel I’ve known you all my life….I also know how much you truly enjoy your job and and appreciate the privilege of being connected to such a historical legacy. Now, continue to work hard so I can see the completed renovations and the May WWII re-enactment can get back to the front lawn! Love, Mom

  2. Tom Degan says:

    “It is now almost a cliche but it is as true as the rising sun: He saved capitalism by ‘tempering its excesses.’ The people would elect him to an unprecedented four terms. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was – beyond a doubt – the greatest president in American history.”

    Tom Degan

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