David Rockefeller, U.S. Army Veteran and billionaire banker, died at the age of 101 on Monday at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York. Rockefeller family spokesman Fraser P. Seitel confirmed Rockefeller’s death. David Rockefeller was the last surviving grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, who co-founded Standard Oil Company during the 19th century, and had great influence all over the world.
Rockefeller enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1942 and entered Officer Candidate School in 1943. In 1945, he was discharged as a captain. During World War II, Rockefeller served in North Africa and France. Rockefeller, who was fluent in French, was an assistant military attache in Paris for seven months. He was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit and the U.S. Army Commendation Ribbon, as well as the French Legion of Honor.
The New York Times reported that in 1981, John J. McCloy, a friend of Rockefeller and a former Chase chairman, said “In my judgment, he will not go down in history as a great banker.”
“He will go down as a real personality, as a distinguished and loyal member of the community,” McCloy added.
From The New York Times:
The youngest of six siblings, David Rockefeller was born in Manhattan on June 12, 1915. His father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., the only son of the oil titan, devoted his life to philanthropy. His mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, was the daughter of Nelson Aldrich, a wealthy senator from Rhode Island.
Besides Nelson, born in 1908, the other children were Abby, who was born in 1903 and died in 1976 after leading a private life; John D. Rockefeller III, who was born in 1906 and immersed himself in philanthropy until his death in an automobile accident in 1978; Laurance, born in 1910, who was an environmentalist and died in 2004; and Winthrop, born in 1912, who was governor of Arkansas and died in 1973.
His life continued to be full of art, philanthropy, and fortune. The New York Times reports:
As an octogenarian, Mr. Rockefeller, whose fortune was estimated in 2012 at $2.7 billion, increasingly devoted himself to philanthropy, donating tens of millions of dollars in particular to Harvard, the Museum of Modern Art and the Rockefeller University, which John D. Rockefeller Sr. founded in 1901.
Even in his 90s, Mr. Rockefeller continued to work at a pace that would tire a much younger person. He traveled more than half the year on behalf of Chase or groups like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. By 2005, when he was interviewed in his offices at Rockefeller Center, he had remained physically active, working with a trainer at the center’s sports club.
He continued to collect art, including hundreds of paintings as well as works in colored glass, porcelain, petrified wood and furniture.
When he was 87, Rockefeller wrote the first autobiography ever done by anyone in their famous family. According to the New York Times, Rockefeller did so because he thought: “Well, it just occurred to me that I had led a rather interesting life.”