Community Contributor
10:22 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Former Franklin Roosevelt Campaign Manager Settled In Pioneer-Era Coral Gables

My father, Ernest Peyton Jones, worked for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was his campaign manager for the southeastern United States and became the associate commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration.   My mother, Betty Schwab Jones, was the secretary for Sen. George Norris of Nebraska. They married in 1936 and lived in Washington.

The iconic Coral Gables City Hall.
The iconic Coral Gables City Hall.

When Roosevelt died in 1945, they packed up my brother Eric and me and moved to Coral Gables. My father said Miami was the land of opportunity. He opened a loan company.

My brother and I attended Coral Gables Elementary, Ponce Junior High and Gables High. We were lucky that our teen years were in the '50s and early '60s. In 1953, I was student council president at Ponce and there was a girl vice president as well, which was very forward-thinking then. In fact, I was the only girl at the state convention.

Coral Gables was a great community to grow up in. My parents were very active, especially in the Garden Club and Rose Society. They were in the first Sister-to-Sister Group from Coral Gables to Cartagena, Colombia.

This story, originally published in The Miami Herald, is part of HistoryMiami's Miami Stories project.
This story, originally published in The Miami Herald, is part of HistoryMiami's Miami Stories project.

In 1949 our parents built a home in Coral Gables. The home still stands; it's near the Coral Gables Youth Center. My son, Andy Elwell, lives there with his wife, Susan, and their two children, Alex, and Katherine. So, four generations of my family have lived in the same house.

I met my first husband, Walter Elwell, at Shenandoah Presbyterian Church. He graduated from Miami High; Sen. Bob Graham was in his homeroom.   We had two sons, Andy and Timothy, who lives in California with his wife, Carol Ann Kelley, and their 3-year-old daughter, Audrey.

I eventually divorced Walter, and in 1989 I married Frank Zagarino, who graduated from the University of Miami. He loved Miami for its weather, sailing and golf. He was a photographer for Life, Time and Sports Illustrated. He was a member of the Coral Reef Yacht Club.

After Frank died, I was lucky enough to buy a house directly behind Andy's. I have my family and friends close by, and I continue to keep my Gables High Class of '57 together.

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