SARANAC LAKE —
“He acted like it was no big deal. He told no one about his experience. He was so self-effacing.”
But Joyeuse’s story compels the first pages of O’Donnell’s book, “Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs, the story of the OSS.”
“I had just a name, Rene Joyeuse, as someone that worked with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the early version of the CIA. I drove there as a secondary stop after going to Norwich University,” the author said.
At Joyeuse’s home, O’Donnell met the man’s wife, Suzanne, and two sons.
”Then we went back in time. He started to tell me about the war. It was extraordinary.”
The story started in Switzerland, where Rene Veuve was born a carpenter’s son and one of eight children, according to accounts of the secret agent’s life.
At 24, he began working for the Allies through the OSS.
The military gave Veuve the code name Joyeuse, the name he kept after leaving the service.
It translates from French as “joyful.”
He dodged German bullets, trained as a spy in England and later survived dangerous treks into the jungles of Indochina, before Vietnam, but he always emerged alive, bearing strategic information.
In Indochina, he worked with Army medics, an experience that soon led to his entry into the Medical School at Sorbonne, in Paris, and his second career as a doctor.
Paris is also where he met Suzanne, a surgical nurse. Married in Washington, D.C., they began careers at the Mayo Clinic that eventually led to positions at UCLA Medical School.
There Dr. Joyeuse invented the first replacement heart valve. The spy-turned-doctor founded the American Trauma Society.
Married and inseparable, the Joyeuses had two sons and came to Saranac Lake some 25 years ago.