David Rockefeller, a world-renowned philanthropist, former chair and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank, and the last surviving grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, has died at the age of 101, the New York Times reports.
Rockefeller led Chase Manhattan in the 1970s, expanding the bank's operations internationally and making it a force in global financial affairs and U.S. foreign policy. His meetings with then-President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt, Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union, and Premier Zhou Enlai of the People's Republic of China led Chase Manhattan to become the first American bank with operations in those countries. Closer to home, Rockefeller was instrumental in rallying the private sector in New York City to address the city's fiscal crisis in the mid-1970s and, as chair of two public-private partnerships, supported innovation in public schools, the development of lower- and middle-income housing, and development of what became the World Trade Center.
With a museum-quality art collection of his own comprising some fifteen thousand pieces, Rockefeller served as board chair of the Museum of Modern Art — which his mother helped found in 1929 and to which he pledged $100 million in 2005 — and encouraged corporations to buy and display art and subsidize local museums. He also donated tens of millions of dollars to Harvard University and Rockefeller University, which his grandfather had founded in 1901. More recently, he donated a thousand acres on Maine's Mount Desert Island to a local public charity and established a $4 million endowment for a New York state park in Westchester County.
Rockefeller's sense of noblesse oblige was heightened by his education at the experimental Lincoln School, founded by philosopher John Dewey and financed by the Rockefeller Foundation to bring together children from varied social backgrounds. He received his B.S. from Harvard, spent a year at the London School of Economics, and received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago — with a dissertation that was supportive of New Deal policies, to which his family was fiercely opposed — before enlisting in the Army in 1942 and serving in North Africa and France.
"Whether serving at the helm of institutions such as the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations, or helping to found others, such as the Trilateral Commission and the Council of the Americas, David was one of the world's foremost advocates for the power of partnership and collaboration," said Rockefeller Foundation president Rajiv J. Shah. "Long before it became popular wisdom, he believed effective partnerships across sectors and geographies was the only way to effect lasting change. All of us who work to make change by bringing together leaders from the worlds of business, government, philanthropy, and beyond owe David an enormous debt of gratitude — we're all walking across bridges that he helped build."