David Rockefeller, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist who was the last in his generation of one of the country’s most famously philanthropic families, died Monday. He was 101.
Rockefeller died in his sleep at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York, according to his spokesman, Fraser P. Seitel.
He was the grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller and the youngest of six children born to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
With the passing of his sister and brothers, he became the guardian of his family’s fortune and head of a sprawling network of family interests, both business and philanthropic, that ranged from environmental conservation to the arts.
David Rockefeller died in his sleep at his home in New York at age 101 on Monday; He is seen here at the 2016 Museum of Modern Art Party in the Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in June 2016 in New York City with daughter-in-law Susan Rockefeller (L) and granddaughter Ariana Rockefeller (R)
To mark his 100th birthday in June 2015, Rockefeller gave 1,000 acres of land next to a national park to the state of Maine.
Aspects of the Rockefeller childrens’ upbringing became famous, including the 25-cent allowance, portions of which had to be set aside for charity and savings, which was known for impressing upon him and his siblings that wealth brings great responsibility.
Two of his brothers held elected office: Nelson Rockefeller served as the governor of New York, hungered for the White House and briefly served as vice president. Winthrop Rockefeller was a governor of Arkansas.
The late President Nelson Mandela (R) of South Africa shakes hands with David Rockefeller after a press conference in Rockefeller Center in New York in September 1998
John D. Rockefeller, Sr (L), David’s grandfather, pictured in Cleveland, Ohio in November 1911; John D. Rockefeller, Jr (R), David’s father, on Fifth Avenue in New York City for Easter Sunday Parade in March 1929
The five Rockefeller brothers posed together in front of a mural at an awards ceremony in New York in September 1967, during which each received a gold medal for ‘distinguished service to humanity’ from the National Institute of Social Sciences; (L-R) David, Winthrop, John D Rockefeller III, Nelson and Laurance
David Rockefeller (L) as then-president of the Chase Manhattan Bank, holds a briefcase near an airplane upon returning to New York City from Paris in October 1963; Rockefeller (R) at the 2011 David Rockefeller Award Luncheon at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City in March 2011
David Rockefeller, however, wielded power and influence without ever seeking public office. Among his many accomplishments were spurring the project that led to the World Trade Center.
And unlike his other brothers, John D. III and Laurance, who shied from the spotlight and were known for philanthropy, David Rockefeller embraced business and traveled and spoke widely as a champion of enlightened capitalism.
‘American capitalism has brought more benefits to more people than any other system in any part of the world at any time in history,’ he said. ‘The problem is to see that the system is run as efficiently and as honestly as it can be.’
David Rockefeller (L) was married to the late Margaret McGrath in Bedford, New York on September 7, 1940, and later went on to father six children with his bride; Rockefeller (R) smiles with his wife Margaret during the Dinner Dance for the National Academy of Arts at Waldorf Hotel in New York City in February 1986
Rockefeller graduated from Harvard in 1936 and received a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago in 1940. He served in the Army during World War II, then began climbing the ranks of management at Chase Bank. That bank merged with The Manhattan Company in 1955.
He was named Chase Manhattan’s president in 1961 and chairman and chief executive officer eight years later. He retired in 1981 at age 65 after a 35-year career.
David Rockefeller (C) at the 2016 Museum of Modern Art Party in the Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in June 2016 in New York City with Marnie Pillsbury (top L), the executive director of the Rockefeller fund, Ariana Rockefeller (top C) and Susan Rockefeller (top R)
In his role of business statesman, Rockefeller preached capitalism at home and favored assisting economies abroad on grounds that bringing prosperity to the Third World would create customers for American products.
He parted company with some of his fellow capitalists on income taxes, calling it unseemly to earn $1 million and then find ways to avoid paying taxes on it.
He didn’t say how much he paid in taxes and never spoke publicly about his personal worth.
In 2015, Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $3 billion.
As one of the Rockefeller grandchildren, David belonged to the last generation in which the inherited family billions were concentrated in a few hands.
The next generation, known as ‘the cousins,’ has more people.
Rockefeller was estimated to have met more than 200 rulers in more than 100 countries during his lifetime, and was often treated as if he were a visiting head of state.
Under Rockefeller, Chase was the first US bank to open offices in the Soviet Union and China and, in 1974, the first to open an office in Egypt after the Suez crisis of 1956.
In his early travels to South Africa, Rockefeller arranged clandestine meetings with several underground black leaders. ‘I find it terribly important to get overall impressions beyond those I get from businessmen,’ he said.
David Rockefeller (L), then-chairman of the Council Americas, pictured shaking hands with President Ronald Reagan at the State Department in Washington in May 1984
George H. W. Bush (L) with David Rockefeller during the George C. Marshall Foundation honoring of Bush at Cipriani in New York in March 2002
David Rockefeller, then-chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, pictured with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir after his arrival in Israel in March 1971
But Rockefeller took a lot of heat for his bank’s substantial dealings with South Africa’s white separatist regime and for helping the deposed, terminally ill Shah of Iran come to New York for medical treatment in 1979, the move that triggered the 13-month US embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.
Rockefeller maintained the family’s patronage of the arts, including its long-standing relationship with New York’s Museum of Modern Art, of which his mother had been a fervent patron.
His private art collection was once valued at $500 million.
The Rockefeller estate overlooking the Hudson River north of New York City is the repository of four generations of family history, including Nelson’s art and sculpture collection.
From the Gilded Age to the Digital: 150-years of Rockefellers
John D Rockefeller, Sr (1839-1937) – founder of Standard Oil
John D Rockefeller, Sr, pictured here in Cleveland, Ohio in 1911
John D Rockefeller, Sr, who is widely considered the richest American of all time (adjusted for inflation), was the founder of Standard Oil, originally based out of Cleveland, Ohio.
Philanthropy was very important to him, and he passed that passion on to his children and grandchildren.
During his life, he donated more than $500 million to various charitable cause, according to History.com.
He also went on to found the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University. He married Laura Celestia Spelman in 1864 and the two had five children together.
He died at 97 years of age in Florida in 1937.
John D Rockefeller, Jr (1874-1960) – the only son of John D. Rockefeller, Sr
John D Rockefeller, Jr, seen here in New York City in 1929
John D Rockefeller, Jr was the only son and the last born of the five children of John D Rockefeller, Sr. He becamse a director of Standard Oil shortly after his graduation with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in 1897.
He married his wife, Abigail ‘Abby’ Greene Aldrich in 1901 in what was considered to be the social event of the time, at the Aldrich mansion in Rhode Island.
Before his passing, he instilled the importance of giving back and the great responsibilty that comes with having lavish wealth in his children. He died of pneumonia in 1960.
John D Rockefeller Jr’s Children – the passing of David Rockefeller marks the end of an era
Abigail Aldrich Rockefeller Mauze (1902-1976)
Abigail Aldrich Rockefeller Mauze, in a portrait from the Rockefeller Archive Center
Abigail ‘Abby’ Aldrich Rockefeller Mauze was the first child and only daughter of John D Rockefeller Jr and Abby Aldrick Rockefeller. She was not known to step into the public eye and focused largely on charitable work. She was the creator and president of the Greenacre Foundation, which came into existence in 1968, and served to maintain and operate parks in New York state.
She was married three times, once divorced and twice widowed before passing away herself from cancer in 1976.
John Davison Rockefeller III (1906-1978)
John Davison Rockefeller III, seen here in a portrait completed in New York in 1962
John Davison Rockefeller III was the eldest son of John D Rockefeller Jr and Abby Aldrick Rockefeller. He devoted most of his time and attention to philanthropy while leaving the politics and banking to his brothers.
In addition to focusing on East Asain affairs, he famously made the initial donation to support Yale University’s Program on Non-Profit Organizations.
He died in an automobile accident in New York in 1978.
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (1908-1979)
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller as he testified before the Noreland Commission into Nursing Home Abuses in New York in August 1975
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was elected governor of New York four times from 1959-1973 before resigning to become vice president of the United States under President Gerald R. Ford from 1974-1977.
He also served in the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. He had made several attempts at a presidential bid of his own but was not able to secure the Republican nomination.
He died of a heart attack in his townhouse office in 1979.
Laurance Spelman Rockefeller (1910-2004)
Laurance Spelman Rockefeller, seen here in New York in June 1961
Laurance Spelman Rockefeller was a prominent member of the Rockefeller family during his 94-year-long life. He graduated from Princeton University in 1932 and attended Harvard Law School for two years before deciding against completing his law degree.
He married Mary French in 1932, who was a childhood friend of his and whose brother he shared a room with his bother, Nelson Rockefeller, while both were in attendance at Dartmouth. The two had three daughters and a son.
He used his fortune to fund conservation efforts as one of the earliest venture capitalists. He died of pulmonary fibrosis in July 2004.
Winthrop Rockefeller (1912-1973)
Winthrop Rockefeller (R) with his brother Nelson (L) at the Republican Convention in Miami, Florida in August 1972
Winthrop Rockefeller was the first Republican governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction, and served two terms in that capacity. He moved to the state in 1953 after divorcing Barbara Sears Rockefeller.
He died of Pancreatic Cancer in 1973.
His son with his ex-wife, Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, would later become Lieutenant Governor of Arkasnas before passing away in Little Rock, Arkansas of a bone marrow malfunction which led to a blood disorder in July 2006.
David Rockefeller (1915-2017)
David Rockefeller (L) with his brothers in New York in September 1967; (L-R) David, Winthrop, John D Rockefeller III, Nelson and Laurance
At 101, Forbes called him the world’s oldest billionaire. With David Rockefeller’s death on Monday, he became the last to pass of his generation of Rockefellers, ending an era for the revered family. Having worked well into his 90s at his office on the 56th floor of the namesake Rockefeller Center, he was also still very much a part of the New York City social scene. His love for art was unparalleled, championing their legacy of support for the Museum of Modern Art and appearing there at events as recently as last year. His life was littered with grandiose stories of exploring the world to welcomes usually observed for heads of state and spending his younger years rollerskating down Fifth Avenue, tailed by a limousine, according to The New York Times.
David Rockefeller (L)_with Chinese Premier Chou En-lai in Peking in June 1973
Princess Chula (L) and David Rockefeller during The Gala Benefit Dinner Dance at the Grand Hyatt in New York City in April 1988
David Rockefeller, second from (L), then-Rockefeller Center chairman and Center President Richard H. Voell (L) with New York City Board of Education President Joseph Barker (R) preparing to slice up an eight-foot-tall culinary replica of Rockefeller Center in New York to mark the 50th birthday celebration of the midtown building complex in June 1982
David Rockefeller at the 2016 Museum of Modern Art Party in the Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in June 2016 in New York City with Susan Rockefeller (L), Ariana Rockefeller (second from the R) and Agnes Gund (R), President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and Chairman of its International Council
One of the major efforts of Rockefeller’s later years was directed at restoring family influence in the landmark Rockefeller Center, most of which had been sold in the 1980s to Japanese investors. He eventually organized an investor group to buy back 45 percent of the property.
His philanthropy and other activities earned him a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1998.
Rockefeller and his wife, the former Margaret McGrath, married in 1940 and had six children – David Jr, Richard, Abby, Neva, Margaret and Eileen. His wife, an active conservationist, died in 1996.
Rockefeller family members gathered beside a portrait of John D. Rockefeller III, founder of the Asia Society, at the opening of the New Asia Society’s headquarters in New York in April 1981; (L-R) David Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller’s daughter Alida Dayton, Laurence Rockefeller, Mrs. and Mr. Jay Rockefeller and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III
David Rockefeller cut the ribbon at the opening of the new Museum of Modern Art building in New York City in November 2004; (L-R) Robert Menschel, President of the Museum of Modern Art; Donald B. Marron, Chairman, Government Relations Committee; Gov. George Pataki; Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman; David Rockefeller, Chairman Emeritus and mayor Michael Bloomberg