Laurance Rockefeller

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Laurance Rockefeller
Laurance S. Rockefeller NYWTS.jpg
Laurance and Mary Rockefeller (1965)
Born
Laurance Spelman Rockefeller

(1910-05-26)May 26, 1910
New York City, U.S.
DiedJuly 11, 2004(2004-07-11) (aged 94)
New York City
Alma mater Princeton University
Occupationfinancier, conservationist, businessman
Spouse(s)
Mary French
(m. 1934;her death 1997)
Children
Parent(s)

Laurance Spelman Rockefeller (May 26, 1910 – July 11, 2004) was an American businessman, financier, philanthropist and major conservationist. He was a prominent third-generation member of the Rockefeller family, being the fourth child of John Davison Rockefeller Jr. and Abigail Greene "Abby" Aldrich. His siblings were Abby, John III, Nelson, Winthrop, and David.

Conservation movement social and political advocacy for protecting natural resources

The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental, and social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including animal and plant species as well as their habitat for the future.

The Rockefeller family is an American industrial, political, and banking family that owns one of the world's largest fortunes. The fortune was initially made in the American petroleum industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by John D. Rockefeller and his brother William Rockefeller, primarily through Standard Oil. The family is also known for its long association with, and control of, Chase Manhattan Bank. The Rockefellers are considered to be one of the most powerful families, if not the most powerful family, in the history of the United States.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. American financier and philanthropist

John Davison Rockefeller Jr. was an American financier and philanthropist who was a prominent member of the Rockefeller family. He was the only son among the five children of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller and the father of the five famous Rockefeller brothers. In biographies, he is commonly referred to as "Junior" to distinguish him from his father, "Senior". His sons included Nelson Rockefeller, the 41st Vice President of The United States; Winthrop Rockefeller, the 37th Governor of Arkansas; and banker David Rockefeller.

Contents

Early life and marriage

Rockefeller was born in New York City. He graduated from Princeton University (1932) and attended Harvard Law School for two years, until he decided he did not want to be a lawyer.

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.

Harvard Law School law school in Cambridge

Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1817, it is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. It is ranked first in the world by the QS World University Rankings and the ARWU Shanghai Ranking.

On August 22, 1934, in Woodstock, Vermont, Laurance married childhood friend Mary French, whose mother, Mary Montague Billings French, was a friend of Laurance's mother. When brother Nelson attended Dartmouth College, he shared a room with Mary's brother. Mary was granddaughter of Frederick H. Billings, a president of Northern Pacific Railway. [1]

Mary French Rockefeller American philanthropist

Mary French Rockefeller was an heiress, socialite, philanthropist, and a member of the extensive Rockefeller family. She was married to Laurance Rockefeller, son of John Davison Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. She was the mother of Laura Rockefeller Chasin, Marion Rockefeller Weber, Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, and Laurance Spelman Rockefeller Jr.

Mary Montagu Billings French was an American heiress and society figure, as well as YWCA president and board member. She was the daughter of Frederick Billings and inherited the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park from him before she died. She passed it on to her daughter, Mary French Rockefeller.

Nelson Rockefeller 41st Vice President of the United States

Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was an American businessman and politician who served as the 41st Vice President of the United States from 1974 to 1977, and previously as the 49th Governor of New York from 1959 to 1973. He also served as assistant secretary of State for American Republic Affairs for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (1944–1945) as well as under secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1954. A member of the wealthy Rockefeller family, he was a noted art collector and served as administrator of Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York.

Laurance and Mary had three daughters and a son. They are Laura Rockefeller Chasin, Marion Rockefeller Weber, Dr. Lucy R. Waletzky, and Larry Rockefeller. He had eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Laura Spelman Rockefeller was an American philanthropist. She was the eldest child of Laurance Spelman Rockefeller (1910–2004) and Mary French (1910–1997), and a fourth generation member of the Rockefeller family. She has two younger sisters, Marion, Lucy Aldrich Rockefeller, and a younger brother, Laurance Spelman Rockefeller Jr.. Her patrilineal great-grandfather was Standard Oil's co-founder John D. Rockefeller and her matrilineal great-grandfather was Frederick H. Billings, a president of Northern Pacific Railway. Both of her grandmothers, Mary Billings French and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, were important to the early development of YWCA USA. Chasin is known as the founder, former executive director, and former board member of the Public Conversations Project in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Marion Rockefeller Weber is the second eldest daughter of Laurance Spelman Rockefeller (1910–2004) and Mary French and a fourth generation member of the Rockefeller family. Her paternal great-grandfather is Standard Oil's founder John D. Rockefeller and maternal great-grandfather is Frederick Billings, a president of Northern Pacific Railway.

Business, philanthropy, interests

In 1937, he inherited his grandfather's seat on the New York Stock Exchange. He served as founding trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for forty-two years, from its inception in 1940 to 1982; during this time he also served as president (1958–68) and later its chairman (1968–80) for twenty-two years, longer than any other leader in the Fund's history. He was also a founding trustee of the Rockefeller Family Fund from 1967 to 1977.

New York Stock Exchange American stock exchange

The New York Stock Exchange is an American stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street, Lower Manhattan, New York City, New York. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at US$30.1 trillion as of February 2018. The average daily trading value was approximately US$169 billion in 2013. The NYSE trading floor is located at 11 Wall Street and is composed of 21 rooms used for the facilitation of trading. A fifth trading room, located at 30 Broad Street, was closed in February 2007. The main building and the 11 Wall Street building were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1978.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) is a philanthropic foundation created and run by members of the Rockefeller family. It was founded in New York City in 1940 as the primary philanthropic vehicle for the five third-generation Rockefeller brothers: John D. Rockefeller III, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop and David. It is distinct from the Rockefeller Foundation. The Rockefellers are an industrial, political, and banking family that made one of the world's largest fortunes in the oil business during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He was a leading figure in the pioneering field of venture capital, which began as a joint partnership with all five brothers and their only sister, Babs, in 1946. In 1969 this became the successful Venrock Associates, which provided important early funding for Intel and Apple Computer, amongst many other start-up technology companies, including many other firms involved in healthcare. Over the years his investment interests ranged also into the fields of aerospace, electronics, high temperature physics, composite materials, optics, lasers, data processing, thermionics, instrumentation and nuclear power.

Venture capital start-up investment

Venture capital (VC) is a type of private equity, a form of financing that is provided by firms or funds to small, early-stage, emerging firms that are deemed to have high growth potential, or which have demonstrated high growth. Venture capital firms or funds invest in these early-stage companies in exchange for equity, or an ownership stake, in the companies they invest in. Venture capitalists take on the risk of financing risky start-ups in the hopes that some of the firms they support will become successful. Because startups face high uncertainty, VC investments do have high rates of failure. The start-ups are usually based on an innovative technology or business model and they are usually from the high technology industries, such as information technology (IT), clean technology or biotechnology.

Intel American semiconductor company

Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in the Silicon Valley. It is the world's second largest and second highest valued semiconductor chip manufacturer based on revenue after being overtaken by Samsung, and is the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers (PCs). Intel ranked No. 46 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

Venrock was a limited partnership investment company financed by members of the Rockefeller family and a number of the institutions with which the family had longstanding philanthropic ties, among them the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller University, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Rockefeller's major interest was in aviation; after the War, he became friendly with Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, who had triumphed in many dogfights over Europe. Rockefeller had learned to fly, and found Rickenbacker's vivid accounts of an approaching boom in commercial air travel to be persuasive. Within a decade after Rockefeller's considerable investment, Eastern Airlines had become the most profitable airline to emerge after World War II. He became its largest shareholder. He also funded the pivotal post-WWII military contractor McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

Rockefeller was a longtime friend and associate of DeWitt Wallace, who with his wife in 1922 co-founded Reader's Digest . Wallace, who was a major funder of the family's Colonial Williamsburg, appointed Laurance as an outside director in the company. [2] He wanted to ensure that it preserved its patriotic mission of informing and educating the public, along with support for national parks, one of Rockefeller's primary interests.

Through his resort management company, Rockresorts, Inc., Rockefeller opened environmentally focused hotels at Caneel Bay on Saint John, United States Virgin Islands (1956; a favorite resort today for celebrities), some property of which was later turned over to the Virgin Islands National Park; in Puerto Rico, on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, and Hawaii, contributing to the movement now known as eco-tourism. The last of these, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, was established in 1965 on the Kohala Coast of the island of Hawaii. Its most noted general manager was Adi Kohler, who later wrote the story of the construction of the famous hotel in his book "Mr. Mauna Kea" published by McKenna Publishing Group. While sailing past Virgin Gorda, Rockefeller spotted an idyllic half-mile crescent bay with what he dubbed "wilderness beach". In 1958 planning and land acquisition began for what would become Little Dix Bay. The resort opened in 1964 and on January 18, 2014 Little Dix Bay celebrated its 50th anniversary. In 1993, the resort became part of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts but remains true to Rockefeller's vision of natural harmony and balance while offering an escape from the ordinary.

Rockefeller funded the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at a critical juncture of its early development. He also funded William Irwin Thompson's Lindisfarne Association, a think tank and retreat. He had a major involvement in the New York Zoological Society, along with support from other family members and philanthropies; he was a long-time trustee (1935–86), president (1968–71) and chairman (1971–85).

In 1983, Laurance Rockefeller donated the primary funds to create The Mirror Theater Ltd, a New York-based theater company founded by Sabra Jones. [3] The Mirror Theater Ltd is known for producing the 1983 Broadway play Alice in Wonderland at the Virginia Theatre and for the many plays performed by its Mirror Repertory Company.

Controversial science

Rockefeller also funded [4] controversial research of the PEAR lab, dealing with consciousness-based physical phenomena.

UFO

In later life, Rockefeller became interested in UFOs. In 1993, along with his niece, Anne Bartley, the stepdaughter of Winthrop Rockefeller and the then-president of the Rockefeller Family Fund, he established the UFO Disclosure Initiative to the Clinton White House. They asked for all UFO information held by the government, including from the CIA and the US Air Force, to be declassified and released to the public. The first and most important test case where declassification had to apply, according to Rockefeller, was the Roswell UFO incident. In September 1994, the Air Force categorically denied the incident was UFO-related. Rockefeller briefed Clinton on the results of his initiative in 1995. Clinton did produce an Executive Order in late 1994 to declassify numerous documents in the National Archives, but this did not specifically refer to UFO-related files. [5]

He also had an interest, gained via his mother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, in Buddhism and Asian cultural affairs. He funded the research of Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. John E. Mack, author of Passport to the Cosmos. He also was reported to have supported the work of Dr. Steven M. Greer of the Disclosure Project. [6] However this has only been substantiated by Greer himself with no evidence other than his word.

Conservation and death

Laurance Rockefeller's ski pass for the years 1969-1970 for Mount Tom and Suicide Six in Woodstock Vermont Laurance Rockefeller Ski Pass.jpg
Laurance Rockefeller's ski pass for the years 1969-1970 for Mount Tom and Suicide Six in Woodstock Vermont

He was noted for his involvement in conservation (Lady Bird Johnson in 1967 labeled him "America's leading conservationist") and the protection of wildlife and was chairman of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. He was also a recipient of the Lady Bird Johnson Conservation Award. He served on dozens of federal, state and local commissions and advised every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower on issues involving recreation, wilderness preservation and ecology. He founded the American Conservation Association and supported many other environmental groups.

He funded the expansion of Grand Teton National Park and was instrumental in establishing and enlarging national parks in Wyoming, California, the Virgin Islands, Vermont, Maine and Hawaii. In his home state, New York, he expended further cash and influence to help establish parklands and urban open spaces. There, as an active member of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, he helped create a chain of parks that blocked the advance of urban sprawl.

In September 1991, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for contributions to conservation and historic preservation. Awarded by President George H. W. Bush, it was the first time in the Medal's history (since 1777) that it had been awarded for outdoor issues, effectively naming Rockefeller as "Mr Conservation", who more than any other American had put this issue on the public agenda. Rockefeller said at the award presentation that nothing was more important to him than "the creation of a conservation ethic in America". [7]

In 1992 Rockefeller and his wife Mary donated their Woodstock, Vermont summer home and farm to the National Park Service, creating a national park dedicated to the history of conservation, now called the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. In 2001, Rockefeller transferred ownership of his landmark 1106-acre (4.5 km²) JY Ranch to the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. It was accepted by Vice President Dick Cheney on behalf of the Federal government (see External Links below). Mary Rockefeller died in 1997, at the age of 86.

Following his wife Mary's death, Rockefeller returned to New York. He died in his sleep of natural cause by pulmonary fibrosis on July 11, 2004 at the age of 94. Laurance Rockefeller was survived by daughters Lucy, Marion, Laura, and one son Larry Rockefeller. He was interred next to his wife at the Rockefeller Family Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow.

Conservation affiliations

Partial list of his more notable memberships:

(Source: Robin Winks, Laurance S. Rockefeller, Appendix, pp. 207–211)

See also

Notes

  1. "Mary and Laurance Rockefellers' Billings Farm and the Farm & Museum". Vermont Standard. May 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  2. Winks, Robin (1997), Laurance S. Rockefeller: Catalyst for Conservation, Washington, DC: Island Press, p. 181.
  3. Nemy, Enid. "BROADWAY." The New York Times. The New York Times, 7 Dec. 1984. Web. 10 Jan. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/1984/12/07/arts/broadway.html>
  4. "Press statement", PEAR, Princeton.
  5. UFO Disclosure Initiative
  6. The Disclosure Project
  7. Received first Congressional Gold Medal for conservation in 1991 – Robin Winks, op. cit., (pp.1–2)

Further reading

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