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David Rockefeller Dies at 101
David Rockeller, who was chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan bank during the 1970s, the longtime chairman of the Museum of Modern Art and the last surviving grandson of John D. Rockefeller – and heir to his Standard Oil empire – has died, as the New York Times reports.
Rockefeller died on Monday at his home in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., according to the Times. He was 101.
Described by the Times as a man who “spread the gospel of American capitalism” across the globe, Rockefeller was still working from his office at Rockefeller Center and still traveling abroad into his late 90s. Rockefeller’s penchant for traveling and meeting world leaders – sometimes drawing the ire of people back home for building relations with autocratic foreign leaders – helped expand Chase Manhattan’s business across the globe, setting up operations in countries such as Egypt and the Soviet Union before any other American bank gain entry.
However, Rockefeller’s ambitions abroad likely hurt Chase Manhattan’s business at home, the Times notes. “Under his leadership Chase fell far behind its rival Citibank, then the nation’s largest bank, in assets and earnings,” the Times reports. “There were years when Chase had the most troubled loan portfolio among major American banks.”
However, while the bank struggled, Rockefeller played a central leadership role in helping New York avoid bankruptcy during the 1970s by bringing “together federal, state and city officials with New York business leaders to work out an economic plan that eventually pulled New York out of its crisis,” the Times reports. He eventually helped restore Chase Manhattan’s financial standing as well by the beginning of the 1980s.
Rockefeller also donated “tens of millions of dollars” to the Rockefeller University, the Museum of Modern Art and Harvard, among other philanthropic pursuits.
In a statement, Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said that “the world has lost a great man and philanthropist, and we, a dear friend and inspiration.” Although Rockefeller never had a formal role with the foundation, his son David Jr. served on the organization’s board of trustees and as chairman until last year.
Whether serving at the helm of institutions such as the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations, or helping to found others, such as the Trilateral Commission and the Council of the Americas, David was one of the world’s foremost advocates for the power of partnership and collaboration. Long before it became popular wisdom, he believed effective partnerships across sectors and geographies was the only way to affect lasting change. All of us who work to make change by bringing together leaders from the worlds of business, government, philanthropy and beyond owe David an enormous debt of gratitude—we’re all walking across bridges that he helped build.
Rockefeller’s fortune was estimated in 2012 to be about $2.7 billion, according to the Times.
Screenshot via The Charlie Rose Show