Billionaire Philanthropist David Rockefeller Dies at Age 101

David Rockefeller, the philanthropist billionaire whose family name is the very definition of American capitalism, died in his sleep Monday at age 101.

The former head of Chase Manhattan Bank was the last grandson of the legendary 19th-century founder of the Standard Oil empire, John D. Rockefeller.

David Rockefeller was the youngest of six children born to John D. Rockefeller Jr.

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

Throughout his life, David Rockefeller carried out the family name by his strong support for American-based global capitalism, but making sure no one was left behind.

“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 once said. “The problem is to see that the system is run as efficiently and as honestly as it can be.”

He was critical of fellow billionaires who sought ways to dodge taxes. Rockefeller 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.

Rockefeller also made sure the family fortune was used for philanthropic purposes, including funding for the arts and environmental causes.

To mark his 100th birthday in 2015, Rockefeller gave 1,000 acres of land next to a national park to the state of Maine.

As head of Chase Manhattan Bank, David Rockefeller opened the first offices of an American bank in Moscow and communist China. He also spurred the project that led to the World Trade Center.

But Rockefeller helped persuade then-President Jimmy Carter to allow the Shah of Iran to come to the U.S. for cancer treatment in 1979 — a move that led to the U.S. hostage crisis in Tehran.

Rockefeller’s 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.

Some information for this report was provided by Associated Press.

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