Laurance Rockefeller Died Sunday
- Friends ---
Laurance Rockefeller has had a major effect on
the conservation and environmental movements in
the insular Caribbean, including early support of
Island Resources Foundation, the Virgin Islands
National Parks Trust, and the Caribbean
Conservation Association. Mr. Rockefeller's
contributions were made directly, and indirectly
by means of the Jackson Hole Preserve, the
American Conservation Association, and via
support through the Rockefeller Brothers' Fund.
Ed and Judith Towle will be sending out an
appreciation of Laurance Rockefeller later this
week . .
>Laurance Rockefeller Dies at 94
>By Adam Bernstein
>Washington Post Staff Writer
>Monday, July 12, 2004; Page B04
>Laurance S. Rockefeller, 94, an early leader in
>venture capitalism who used his family's oil
>fortune to fund conservation efforts and
>aviation enterprises, died July 11 at his home
>in New York City. He had pulmonary fibrosis.
>Mr. Rockefeller was a central member of one of
>the first families of American civic, social,
>economic and philanthropic life. His grandfather
>John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil and
>established the family tradition of giving away
>millions of dollars.
>Laurance Rockefeller, a tall, urbane,
>business-minded billionaire who operated private
>planes and PT boats for sport, became known
>largely for conservation efforts. He amplified
>the legacy of his father -- who had created
>major national parks -- by expanding and
>preserving many of his own, from California to
>the U.S. Virgin Islands.
>Robin W. Winks wrote in a biography of Laurance
>Rockefeller that his service in the late 1950s
>and early 1960s as chairman of the Outdoor
>Recreation Resources Review Commission provided
>the path for decades of conservation laws.
>Mr. Rockefeller found great favor during Lady
>Bird Johnson's beautification crusade in the
>1960s. In 1967, the first lady called him
>"America's leading conservationist."
>Mr. Rockefeller also was a chief advocate for
>investing family money in new, often bold
>enterprises. Particularly fascinated by
>aviation, he poured money into new projects so
>they "would not be snuffed out by a merger
>because of a lack of financing."
>With commercial air travel still a gamble in the
>late 1930s, Mr. Rockefeller gave key financial
>backing to Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I
>ace who became chief of Eastern Airlines. Mr.
>Rockefeller became one of the airline's largest
>A meeting with J.S. McDonnell Jr., the St. Louis
>aircraft engineer and designer, led to an
>infusion of cash that created McDonnell Aircraft
>Corp., one of the most important military
>contractors in the aftermath of World War II.
>Mr. Rockefeller was a director at McDonnell
>Aircraft but gradually reduced his role there to
>help smaller concerns, such as Reaction Motors
>in New Jersey, which built the Viking Rocket. He
>invested heavily in firms researching supersonic
>engineering. And one of his investment
>partnerships in the late 1960s, Venrock
>Associates, provided early funding for computer
>companies Intel and Apple.
>"People who try to play it safe in the long run
>have very dull lives," Mr. Rockefeller told
>Forbes magazine, which listed his net worth last
>year at $1.5 billion.
>Laurance Spelman Rockefeller, a New York native,
>was the fourth of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and
>Abby Aldrich Rockefeller's six children; he was
>the third son. His siblings were Abby, John D.
>III, Nelson, Winthrop and David.
>Laurance often accompanied his father on trips
>to the American West, where the elder
>Rockefeller created Grand Teton and other
>On other adventures, his role was less
>prominent. In summer 1929, he and Nelson were
>cooks and dishwashers on a shipboard expedition
>to Labrador led by Wilfred Grenfell.
>After graduating in 1932 with a philosophy
>degree from Princeton University, Laurance
>Rockefeller attended Harvard University law
>school. He then inherited a seat on the New York
>Stock Exchange, which he rarely if ever visited.
>During World War II, he served in the Navy's
>bureau of aeronautics as a liaison officer to
>aircraft production facilities on the West Coast.
>After the war, he served as president of
>Rockefeller Brothers Inc., an investment and
>research organization. He also was board
>chairman of Rockefeller Center Inc., which
>oversaw one of the most prominent blocks of real
>estate in New York.
>Conservation and recreation remained vital interests.
>He sat on the boards of zoos and parks.
>He created public sanctuaries in Wyoming,
>donating his family's property in Jackson Hole
>to the federal government. In 1956, he turned
>over half of the island of St. John in the U.S.
>Virgin Islands -- he owned 5,000 acres -- to the
>National Park Service to create Virgin Islands
>He developed popular tourist resorts, including
>Caneel Bay on St. John and Mauna Kea Hotel in
>Hawaii. He operated the Woodstock Inn and the
>Suicide Six and Mount Tom ski areas in Vermont.
>Many of his properties were used by presidents
>and potentates, with whom Mr. Rockefeller was
>He served on public commissions that developed
>an inventory of the nation's recreational needs
>and other blue-ribbon beautification panels. He
>often funded many of the recommendations he made.
>In 1965, as coordinator of the White House
>Conference on Natural Beauty, he explained his
>mission to a public he assumed was skeptical of
>political leaders spending their time "talking
>"The answer is, of course, that the President,
>the leaders and, most significantly, the people
>of this country have become concerned about the
>kind of America our affluence is creating," he
>wrote in an essay published in The Washington
>Post. "In many ways, natural beauty is an
>inadequate term for this concern. . . . What is
>involved here is the basic quality of
>environment -- the health of the land and water
>and air on which man depends for life, as do all
>In 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him
>the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's
>highest civilian award.
>In 1934, he married Mary French, the
>granddaughter of conservationist and railroad
>president Frederick Billings. She died in 1997.
>Four of his siblings have died: Winthrop
>Rockefeller, who served two terms as governor of
>Arkansas, in 1973; Abby Rockefeller Mauze, in
>1976; John D. Rockefeller III, chairman of the
>Rockefeller Foundation and a founder of Lincoln
>Center, in 1978; and Nelson A. Rockefeller, who
>served as governor of New York and vice
>president under President Gerald R. Ford, in
>His nephew John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV is a
>Democratic senator from West Virginia.
>Survivors include four children; a brother,
>financier David Rockefeller, the former chief
>executive of Chase Manhattan Bank; eight
>grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
>© 2004 The Washington Post Company
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