August Adolph Gennerich

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August Adolph Gennerich (February 10, 1887 – December 1, 1936) was a New York City police officer, U.S.Secret Service Agent, and the bodyguard of Franklin D. Roosevelt.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Gennerich was born on February 10, 1887, in Yorkville, Manhattan, New York.[3]


In 1909, Gennerich became a police officer with the New York City Police. He was cited three times for bravery, once for capturing bandits who "had peppered him for a mile and a half" with a machine gun until their car overturned. He later became a member of the bomb squad. In 1929 he was assigned as a bodyguard whenever New York's governor was in the city. He was assigned to Albany with then-Governor Roosevelt.[4]

In the winter of 1933, when the Roosevelts moved to Washington, D.C., Gennerich was given a 60-day leave of absence so that he could complete his 25 years on the force, and retire on a $1,500-a-year pension. This allowed him to join the United States Secret Service and continue to work as President Roosevelt's bodyguard.[4] The very first executive order issued by the newly-appointed President Roosevelt was Order 6071, which ensured Gennerich would be able to resume his position as Roosevelt's bodyguard immediately.[5] Gennerich had grown close to Roosevelt and his family; Eleanor Roosevelt said in an edition of her newspaper column My Day that "He was cheerful, kindly and always willing to think of other people. He would play the piano for hours to amuse the children at Warm Springs. One and all they loved him."[6]

Gennerich lying in state at the White House in 1936.

Personal life[edit]

Gennerich died of a heart attack in the early hours of December 1, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while dancing in a restaurant. Gennerich was 50.[7][8][3] Following his death, his body was returned to Washington DC on the USS Indianapolis[4] and was lain in state at the White House on December 16; he was subsequently buried in New York City.[9] In a letter to his wife shortly after Gennerich's death, Franklin Roosevelt wrote "Good old Gus was the kind of loyal friend who simply cannot be replaced".[10]


  1. ^ "Personal Loss". Time. December 14, 1936. Retrieved June 7, 2007. A few moments later she heard Franklin Roosevelt, speaking from Buenos Aires, break the news that his personal bodyguard, Gus Gennerich, had dropped dead of heart disease.
  2. ^ Time magazine lists his birth year as 1886, but he listed his own birth day as February 10, 1887 when he registered for the draft in World War I
  3. ^ a b Rowley, Hazel (2011). Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage. Melbourne University Publishing. p. 212. ISBN 9780522851793. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "President's Guard Dies in Restaurant. Body of Gus Gennerich Will Be Taken to Washington on the Cruiser Indianapolis. Rites to be held today. Roosevelt Cancels as Many of His Engagements as Possible and Arranges for Funeral". The New York Times. December 2, 1936. Retrieved February 14, 2018. President Roosevelt's activities today were overshadowed by the shock of the sudden death late last night of his personal bodyguard, comrade and friend, August Adolph Gennerich. He canceled all possible engagements for the day and arranged a funeral service at the embassy for tomorrow.
  5. ^ Clifford Lee Lord, ed. (1944). Presidential executive orders: numbered 1-8030. Historical Records Survey. 2. Hastings House. p. 210. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  6. ^ Roosevelt, Eleanor (December 2, 1936). "My Day". George Washington University. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  7. ^ "August "Gus" Adolph Gennerich". Officer Down Memorial Page. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  8. ^ "Bodyguard of Roosevelt dies in Argentina". The Cedar Rapids Gazette. 54 (327). December 1, 1936. p. 1. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  9. ^ "Body of Gus Gennerich lies in state at White House. Washington, D.C., Dec. 16". Library of Congress. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Ward, Geoffrey C. (December 11, 2012). Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley. Simon and Schuster. p. 93. ISBN 9781439117668. Retrieved November 7, 2018.

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