David Rockefeller, the billionaire philanthropist, is dead at 101

David Rockefeller, left, with Nelson Mandela in 1998.

(REUTERS/Peter Morgan)

David Rockefeller, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist who was the last in his generation one of the most famous philanthropic families, died on Monday. He was 101.

Rockefeller died in his sleep in his home in a suburb of Pocantico Hills, New York, according to his spokesman, Fraser P. Seitel.

He was the youngest of six children born to John D. Rockefeller Jr. and grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. With the death of his brothers and sisters, he was guardian of his family fortune and the head of a large network of family interests, both business and philanthropic, which ranged from the preservation of the environment to the arts.

On the occasion of his 100th birthday in 2015, Rockefeller gave 1,000 acres of land adjacent to a national park in the state of Maine.

Aspects of the Rockefeller brothers’ upbringing, became famous, including the 25-cent allowance, the portions were to be set aside for charity and savings, and the imprint that wealth brings great responsibility.

Two of his brothers held elected: Nelson Rockefeller, served as governor of New York, hungered for the White House, and briefly served as vice-president. Winthrop Rockefeller was governor of Arkansas.

David Rockefeller, however, merely power and influence, without ever seeking public office. Among his many achievements were the inducement of the project that has led to the World Trade Center.

And unlike his other brothers, John D. III and Laurance, who shied from the limelight and were well known for philanthropy, David Rockefeller embraced company and traveled and spoke widely as a champion of enlightened capitalism.

“American capitalism has led to more benefits for more people than any other system in all parts of the world at any time in history,” he said. “The problem is to see that the system is as good and as honest as it can be.”

Rockefeller graduated from Harvard in 1936 and earned a phd in economics from the University of Chicago in 1940. He served in the Army during the second world War, then began climbing the ranks of management at Chase Bank. That bank merged with The Manhattan Company in 1955.

He got the name of the Chase Manhattan president in 1961 and chairman and chief executive officer eight years later. He retired in 1981 at the age of 65 after a 35-year career.

In his role as business statesman, Rockefeller preached capitalism at home and prefer to assist economies abroad on the ground that the bringing of prosperity in the Third World would be creating customers for American products.

He says goodbye with a number of his fellow-capitalists of the income tax, calling it inappropriate to earn $1 million, and then to find ways to avoid paying taxes. He could not say how much he paid in taxes and never spoke openly about his personal worth. In 2015, Forbes magazine estimated fortune of $3 billion.

As one of the Rockefeller grandchildren, David belonged to the last generation that the hereditary family of billions more were concentrated in a few hands. The next generation, also known as “the cousins,” has more people.

Rockefeller was estimated to have made more than 200 rulers in more than 100 countries during his life, and was often treated as if he were a visiting head of state.

Under Rockefeller, Chase was the first U.S. 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 the beginning of his travels to South-Africa, Rockefeller arranged clandestine meetings with various underground black leaders. “I think it is terribly important to the overall impression than I get from entrepreneurs,” he said.

But Rockefeller took a lot of heat for his bank significant relations with South Africa’s white separatist regime and for the help of the marketed, is terminally ill Shah of Iran come to New York for medical treatment in 1979, the movement that caused the 13 months of the AMERICAN 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, which his mother had been an avid user. His private art collection was once with a value of $500 million. The Rockefeller estate overlooking the Hudson River north of New York City is the repository of the four generations of the family history, including Nelson’s art and sculpture collection.

One of the great efforts of Rockefeller’s later years was aimed at restoring the family-influence in the sight of the Rockefeller Center, most of which are sold in the 1980s to Japanese investors. He organized an investor group to buy back the 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.

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