Laurance and Mary Rockefeller (1965)
Laurance Spelman Rockefeller
May 26, 1910o
New York City, U.S.
|Died||July 11, 2004 94) (aged|
New York City
|Alma mater||Princeton University|
|Occupation||financier, conservationist, businessman|
(m. 1934;her death 1997)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He was a leading figure in the pioneering field of venture capital,[ citation needed ] founding 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 spread into the fields of aerospace, electronics, high temperature physics, composite materials, optics, lasers, data processing, thermionics, instrumentation and nuclear power. The family also 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.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.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.
Rockefeller also fundedresearch of the PEAR lab, dealing with consciousness-based physical phenomena.
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.
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.
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".
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).
A partial list of Rockefeller's more notable conservation-related memberships:
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.
Woodstock is the shire town of Windsor County, Vermont, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 3,048. It includes the villages of South Woodstock, Taftsville, and Woodstock.
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.
John David Podesta Jr. is an American political consultant who served as White House Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton from October 20, 1998, until January 20, 2001, and as Counselor to President Barack Obama from January 1, 2014, until February 13, 2015. Before that he served as the White House Staff Secretary and White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for the Clinton Administration between January 20, 1993, until October 20, 1998.
John Davison Rockefeller III was a philanthropist and third-generation member of the prominent Rockefeller family. He was the eldest son of the philanthropists John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. His siblings were Abby, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop and David.
The Rockefeller family is an American industrial, political, and banking family that owns one of the world's largest fortunes. The fortune was 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 has had a long association with, and control of, Chase Manhattan Bank. As of 1977 the Rockefellers were considered one of the most powerful families in the history of the United States. The Rockefeller family originated in Rhineland in Germany and family members moved to the New World in the early 18th century, while through Eliza Davison, John D. Rockefeller and William Rockefeller Jr. and their descendants are also of Scotch-Irish ancestry.
David Rockefeller was an American banker who served as chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Corporation. He was the oldest living member of the third generation of the Rockefeller family, and family patriarch from August 2004 until his death in March 2017. Rockefeller was the youngest child of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and a grandson of John D. Rockefeller and Laura Spelman Rockefeller.
Frederick H. Billings was an American lawyer and financier. From 1879 to 1881 he was President of the Northern Pacific Railway.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont. The park preserves the site where Frederick Billings established a managed forest and a progressive dairy farm. The name honors Billings and the other owners of the property: George Perkins Marsh, Mary Montagu Billings French, Laurance Rockefeller, and Mary French Rockefeller. The Rockefellers transferred the property to the federal government in 1992. It is the only unit of the United States National Park System in Vermont.
Caneel Bay Set on a 170-acre peninsula in the Virgin Islands National Park, near seven picturesque beaches, the Resort is one of the vacation destinations in the Caribbean. It is located on the northwest side of St. John, one of the US Virgin Islands. The resort is within Virgin Islands National Park on property once owned by Laurance Rockefeller. The hotel was one of the early members of Rockefeller's hotel chain, Rockresorts. The resort takes its name from the location of the property at Caneel Bay. Rockefeller was so impressed by the area's beauty that he arranged to buy up most of the island of St. John. He then donated most of it to the U.S. government for the creation of the Virgin Islands National Park, the 29th U.S. national park. Rockefeller had the resort buildings designed to blend in with the landscape, and most property lighting is indirect so that guests can be able to see the stars at night. Caneel Bay was a Rosewood Resort until the fall of 2013. The resort is a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
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.
Steven Clark Rockefeller is a fourth-generation member of the Rockefeller family, and a former dean of Middlebury College. He is the oldest living member of the family who still carries the Rockefeller name, and has been the oldest living Rockefeller since his Uncle David Rockefeller died in March 2017.
Venrock, a compound of "Venture" and "Rockefeller", is a venture capital firm formed in 1969 to build upon the successful investing activities of the Rockefeller family that began in the late 1930s. It has offices in Palo Alto, California, New York City, and Boston, Massachusetts.
Franklin Swift Billings was an American businessman and politician from Woodstock, Vermont. He served as the 53rd Lieutenant Governor of Vermont from 1923 to 1925 and as the 60th Governor of Vermont from 1925 to 1927.
The George Perkins Marsh Boyhood Home, also known as the Marsh-Billings House, is the architectural centerpiece of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, located on Vermont Route 12 in Woodstock, Vermont, United States. The house, built in 1805 and enlarged several times, is historically significant as the boyhood home of George Perkins Marsh (1801–82), an early conservationist, and as the home later in the 19th century of Frederick H. Billings (1823–90), a businessman and philanthropist who was a cofounder of the Northern Pacific Railroad. It is also architecturally significant as a high-quality example of Queen Anne architecture, alterations and enlargements commissioned by Billings and designed by Henry Hudson Holley. The house and its surrounding gardens were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1967. The 550-acre (220 ha) estate on which it stands was given by Mary French Rockefeller and Laurance Rockefeller to the people of the United States in 1992.
Mary French Rockefeller was an American 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.
Lucy Aldrich Rockefeller Waletzky is an American philanthropist and environmentalist. She is the daughter of Laurance Spelman Rockefeller (1910–2004) and Mary French (1910–1997), and a fourth generation member of the Rockefeller family. Waletzky served on the board of the Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve from 1997 to 2006. She received the Governor's Parks and Preservation Award in 2004.
Laurance "Larry" Spelman Rockefeller Jr., is an American environmental lawyer. He worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council for 25 years. Rockefeller is now a trustee of the organization. He stated that his family all shared an interest in environmental matters. "If we see a problem, we roll up our sleeves, enlist the help of others, apply our resources and get the job done," he said.
Thomas M. Debevoise was a Vermont attorney who served as Vermont Attorney General from 1960 to 1962.