William vanden Heuvel, honorary member of the Roosevelt Foundation board, dies at 91

On June 15th the Board of the Roosevelt Foundation received the sad news of the death of its honorary member William vanden Heuvel.

William vanden Heuvel was the son of a Dutch-Belgian family and he was the driving force in starting the cooperation between the Roosevelt Institute in New York and the Roosevelt Foundation in Middelburg in 1982.

During his lifetime he has greatly contributed and inspired many to carry forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. He described the Four Freedoms very strikingly as:

  • Our best defense against corruption of democracy;
  • Our shield against the forces of intolerance and fanaticism;
  • Our commitment to erase hunger and poverty from the earth; and
  • Our effort to reach collective security.


These words belong to the best definitions of what the Four Freedoms mean to us. On many occasions he has have given us his views on the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, most notably as one of the speakers during the Four Freedoms Awards ceremonies in Middelburg. We remember his beautiful and emotional speech in 2002, just weeks after the murder of a leading politician in the Netherlands and months after the shattering events of 11 september 2001 (the attack on the World Trade Centre New York).

He said that in the unity forged in crisis we must find the energy, the momentum, the decency and the love for one another that will enlarge the horizons of human hope and advance the prospects for peace and social justice.

True and beautiful words which were a great support to many in difficult times.

The Roosevelt Foundation will remember Ambassador Vanden Heuvel as a great friend and inspirator and is proud to continue to carry forward the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his spirit. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends. The Roosevelt Foundation wishes them  strength and love to cope with the loss of this great man.

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