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Posted: March 20, 2017

Who was David Rockefeller?

D. Pickoff/AP
Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller is pictured here in 1981. He's the last of his generation in the famously fabled Rockefeller family. He died on Monday, March 20, 2017 at his home in New York.

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Who was David Rockefeller?
Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller is pictured here in 1981. He's the last of his generation in the famously fabled Rockefeller family. He died on Monday, March 20, 2017 at his home in New York.

By Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

David Rockefeller was the oldest living billionaire, a banker and a philanthropist, but he was more than that.

As the youngest and last surviving grandson of Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, David inherited the fabled Rockefeller fortune and wielded great power and influence during his lifetime. From Washington to New York City government to capitals around the world, his influence was far flung and included banking, education and the art world.

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He was born in New York City on June 12, 1915, the youngest of six children. His father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., was the only son of John D. Rockefeller. David Rockefeller was a graduate of Harvard University and attended the London School of Economics. 

He married Margaret McGrath in 1940 and had six children.

During the 1970s Rockefeller was chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank and helped settle New York City’s financial crisis in the middle of the decade. 

He was well-known to world leaders, including South African President Nelson Mandela, China’s Deng Xiaoping, the shah of Iran and Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt. 

In Ron Chernow’s 1998 biography of David Rockefeller, called “Titan,” Chernow wrote, “The range of David Rockefeller’s business and philanthropic and political connections is perhaps unequaled.”

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He was chairman of the Museum of Modern Art and spearheaded a campaign to get corporations to, not only buy and display art in their buildings, but also support local museums, according to The New York Times.

David Rockefeller was also known for his philanthropy, bequeathing $225 million to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a foundation promoting global social change. He gave $100 million to both The Museum of Modern Art, which was co-founded by his mother, Abigail Greene Aldrich Rockefeller, in 1929, and Rockefeller University, Bloomberg reported.

He also gave Harvard a $100 million donation in 2008.

As of 2016, David Rockefeller had an estimated worth of more than $3 billion.

He was one of five Rockefeller brothers and the last surviving sibling. His death closes a chapter in the fabled and influential Rockefeller family. 


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